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Air Pollution and Urban Structure Linkages: Evidence from European Cities


  • Miguel Cárdenas Rodríguez


  • Laura Dupont-Courtade


  • Walid Oueslati



This paper investigates the relationship between local air pollution and urban structure with an emphasis on urban fragmentation. Using a unique dataset of 249 Large Urban Zones (LUZ) across Europe, a Bayesian Model Averaging selection method is employed to empirically identify the determinants of within-LUZ concentration of three air pollutants: NO2, PM10 and SO2 for the year 2006. Several indices of land use are considered among possible determinants. These are supplemented by a dataset on various economic, demographic and meteorological variables that can explain the variation of air pollution. The results of this econometric analysis support the hypothesis that urban structure has significant effects on pollution concentration. In particular, they suggest that fragmented urban areas experience higher concentrations of NO2 and PM10 and that densely populated urban areas suffer from higher SO2 concentration. The findings suggest that policies favouring continuous urban areas may result in environmental improvements. Ce rapport s’intéresse à la relation entre la pollution atmosphérique locale et la structure des villes en s’attachant plus particulièrement à la fragmentation urbaine. On applique une méthode d'analyse bayésienne des modèles pour identifier, à partir d’un ensemble de données unique couvrant 249 zones urbaines élargies (LUZ) d’Europe, les facteurs qui déterminent les concentrations de trois polluants atmosphériques (NO2, PM10 et SO2) dans ces zones, pour l’année 2006. Plusieurs indices d’occupation des sols figurent parmi les possibles déterminants. Ils sont complétés par un ensemble de données sur différentes variables économiques, démographiques et météorologiques qui pourraient expliquer les variations de la pollution atmosphérique. Les résultats de cette analyse économétrique confirment l’hypothèse selon laquelle la structure du tissu urbain a des effets importants sur les concentrations de polluants. En particulier, les résultats indiquent des concentrations plus élevées de NO2 et de PM10 dans les espaces urbains fragmentés et des concentrations plus élevées de SO2 dans les zones urbaines densément peuplées. Ces résultats donnent à penser que la mise en oeuvre de politiques favorisant la continuité de l’espace urbain pourrait être bénéfique pour l’environnement.

Suggested Citation

  • Miguel Cárdenas Rodríguez & Laura Dupont-Courtade & Walid Oueslati, 2015. "Air Pollution and Urban Structure Linkages: Evidence from European Cities," OECD Environment Working Papers 96, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:envaaa:96-en

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    air pollution; Bayesian model averaging; fragmentation; pollution atmosphérique; urban sprawl; étalement urbain;

    JEL classification:

    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy
    • R52 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Land Use and Other Regulations

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