IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

The cost of sprawl: an Italian case study

Listed author(s):
  • Laura Fregolent


  • Stefania Tonin


In this paper we describe and analyze an Italian case of urban sprawl and its urban growth for understanding the development of a "metropolitan sprawled system". The portion of Veneto Region that is part of our case study cover about 3700 square km, for a total of 145 municipalities. The manifestations of physical and morphological sprawl came as a result of specific cultural and political situations and economic development, such as rising incomes, and were also facilitated by the local topography. The most important changes occurred in this area over the past 30 years, starting from the 1970's: between 1970 and 1990, the population increased somewhat, but the urbanized and developed land area increased significantly. The main aim of our paper is to find out if low-density development patterns are more expensive and if local public spending is influenced by different urban forms expansions. We measure sprawl with some indicators suggesting in the literature such as urban density, population density and the territorial fragmentation. Data for the economic analysis come from local balance sheets of 145 municipalities for the year 2007. In particular, we collect the costs of the main public services sustained by the municipalities such as public transport, road and street maintenance, waste management, and water and sewer services. Adopting regression analysis, we estimate the impact of urban sprawl on different current expenditures, controlling for other variables such as local taxes paid by citizens, central government aids, territory characteristics, and more others. We find that low density development patterns are in general more expensive, in particular when municipalities have to provide education services, solid waste collection and other environmental and urban management services. Our analysis wants to highlight the threats pose by sprawl in terms of urban sustainable development patterns and to put in evidence the costs of an unbalanced growth in order to let public government to re-orient their policies versus the containment of the urban growth process.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by European Regional Science Association in its series ERSA conference papers with number ersa10p534.

in new window

Date of creation: Sep 2011
Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa10p534
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Welthandelsplatz 1, 1020 Vienna, Austria

Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  1. Amnon Frenkel & Maya Ashkenazi, 2008. "Measuring urban sprawl: how can we deal with it?," Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 35(1), pages 56-79, January.
  2. 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.
  3. Amnon Frenkel & Maya Ashkenazi, 2008. "Measuring Urban Sprawl: How Can We Deal with It?," Environment and Planning B, , vol. 35(1), pages 56-79, February.
  4. Miriam Hortas-Rico & Albert Solé-Ollé, 2010. "Does Urban Sprawl Increase the Costs of Providing Local Public Services? Evidence from Spanish Municipalities," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 47(7), pages 1513-1540, June.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa10p534. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Gunther Maier)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.