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Multi-Dimensional Urban Sprawl in Europe: a Self-Organizing Map Approach


  • Daniel Arribas-Bel


  • Peter Nijkamp


  • Henk Scholten


The present paper considers urban sprawl in Europe from a multi- dimensional and exploratory point of view. Several literatures on the topic (mainly from urban economics, but also from other fields such as urban planning or regional science) are reviewed to extract the main dimensions of the phenomenon, which are found to be the following six: connectivity, decentralization, density, scattering, accessibility to open space and land- use mix. Several indicators are defined and calculated to measure them for a representative sample of 209 European cities. The data are presented to the self-organizing map (SOM) algorithm to observe how the different dimensions interact with each other and what is their behaviour. The analysis of the SOM reveals very interesting patterns that could not be unveiled otherwise. The paper also presents results of an exploration on the relation to geographical location and population size, characterizing the cities in terms of their degree and variety of sprawl.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Arribas-Bel & Peter Nijkamp & Henk Scholten, 2011. "Multi-Dimensional Urban Sprawl in Europe: a Self-Organizing Map Approach," ERSA conference papers ersa10p485, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa10p485

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Glaeser, Edward L. & Kahn, Matthew E., 2004. "Sprawl and urban growth," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics,in: J. V. Henderson & J. F. Thisse (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 56, pages 2481-2527 Elsevier.
    2. Masahisa Fujita & Paul Krugman & Anthony J. Venables, 2001. "The Spatial Economy: Cities, Regions, and International Trade," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262561476, July.
    3. Brueckner, Jan K. & Largey, Ann G., 2008. "Social interaction and urban sprawl," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 18-34, July.
    4. Seong-Hoon Cho & Dayton M. Lambert & Roland K. Roberts & Seung Gyu Kim, 2010. "Moderating urban sprawl: is there a balance between shared open space and housing parcel size?," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(5), pages 763-783, September.
    5. Marcy Burchfield & Henry G. Overman & Diego Puga & Matthew A. Turner, 2006. "Causes of Sprawl: A Portrait from Space," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 587-633.
    6. Turner, Matthew A., 2007. "A simple theory of smart growth and sprawl," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 21-44, January.
    7. Robert O. Harvey & W. A. V. Clark, 1965. "The Nature and Economics of Urban Sprawl," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(1), pages 1-9.
    8. Jan Ritsema van Eck & Eric Koomen, 2008. "Characterising urban concentration and land-use diversity in simulations of future land use," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 42(1), pages 123-140, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Walid Oueslati & Seraphim Alvanides & Guy Garrod, 2015. "Determinants of urban sprawl in European cities," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 52(9), pages 1594-1614, July.
    2. Laura Varela-Candamio & Fernando Rubiera Morollón & Gohar Sedrakyan, 2017. "Urban sprawl and local fiscal burden: analysing the Spanish case," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1721, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    3. Drejerska, Nina, 5. "Are There Rural Areas In The Warsaw Metropolitan Area? An Attempt To Answer The Question Base On The Degree Of Urbanisation (Degurba)," Roczniki (Annals), Polish Association of Agricultural Economists and Agribusiness - Stowarzyszenie Ekonomistow Rolnictwa e Agrobiznesu (SERiA), issue 5.
    4. Karima Kourtit & Daniel Arribas-Bel & Peter Nijkamp, 2012. "High performers in complex spatial systems: a self-organizing mapping approach with reference to The Netherlands," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 48(2), pages 501-527, April.
    5. Miquel-Ángel Garcia-López & Ilias Pasidis & Elisabet Viladecans-Marsal, 2015. "Express delivery to the suburbs. The effects of transportation in Europe’s heterogeneous cities," Working Papers 2015/30, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    6. Luca Salvati & Giuseppe Venanzoni & Pere Serra & Margherita Carlucci, 2016. "Scattered or polycentric? Untangling urban growth in three southern European metropolitan regions through exploratory spatial data analysis," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 57(1), pages 1-29, July.
    7. Ilias-Nikiforos Pasidis & Miquel-Àngel Garcia-López & Elisabet Viladecans-Marsal, 2015. "Express delivery to the suburbs. Transport Infrastructure and European cities," ERSA conference papers ersa15p1239, European Regional Science Association.
    8. Karima Kourtit & Daniel Arribas-Bel & Peter Nijkamp, 2013. "High Performance in Complex Spatial Systems: A Self-Organizing Mapping Approach with Reference to The Netherlands," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-194/VIII, Tinbergen Institute.
    9. Miguel Gómez-Antonio & Miriam Hortas-Rico & Linna Li, 2016. "The Causes of Urban Sprawl in Spanish Urban Areas: A Spatial Approach," Spatial Economic Analysis, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(2), pages 219-247, June.
    10. Barry Kew & Brian D. Lee, 2013. "Measuring Sprawl across the Urban Rural Continuum Using an Amalgamated Sprawl Index," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(5), pages 1-23, April.
    11. Arribas, D. & Kourtit, K. & Nijkamp, P., 2012. "Benchmarking of world cities through self-organizing maps," Serie Research Memoranda 0006, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics.
    12. Karima Kourtit & Peter Nijkamp & Soushi Suzuki, 2013. "The Rat Race between World Cities: In Search of Exceptional Places by Means of Super-Efficient Data Development Analysis," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-104/VIII, Tinbergen Institute.
    13. Olumayokun Soremekun & Charles A. Malgwi, 2013. "Exploring Patterns in ICT Growth and Development in Africa: A Kohonen Map Analysis," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 43(2,3), pages 175-190, Winter.
    14. Salvati, Luca & Sateriano, Adele & Grigoriadis, Efstathios & Carlucci, Margherita, 2017. "New wine in old bottles: The (changing) socioeconomic attributes of sprawl during building boom and stagnation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 361-372.
    15. repec:rre:publsh:v:43:y:2013:i:23:p:99-105 is not listed on IDEAS

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