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Does urban sprawl increase the costs of providing local public services? Evidence from Spanish municipalities

  • Albert Solé-Ollé


    (IEB, Universitat de Barcelona.)

  • Miriam Hortas-Rico


    (IEB, Universitat de Barcelona.)

This paper examines the impact of urban sprawl, a phenomenon of particular interest in Spain, which is currently experiencing this process of rapid, low-density urban expansion. Many adverse consequences are attributed to urban sprawl (e.g., traffic congestion, air pollution and social segregation), though here we are concerned primarily with the rising costs of providing local public services. Our initial aim is to develop an accurate measure of urban sprawl so that we might empirically test its impact on municipal budgets. Then, we undertake an empirical analysis using a cross-sectional data set of 2,500 Spanish municipalities for the year 2003 and a piecewise linear function to account for the potentially nonlinear relationship between sprawl and local costs. The estimations derived from the expenditure equations for both aggregate and six disaggregated spending categories indicate that low-density development patterns lead to greater provision costs of local public services.

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Paper provided by Xarxa de Referència en Economia Aplicada (XREAP) in its series Working Papers with number XREAP2008-10.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2008
Date of revision: Nov 2008
Handle: RePEc:xrp:wpaper:xreap2008-10
Contact details of provider: Postal: Espai de Recerca en Economia, Facultat de Ciències Econòmiques i Empresarials, Universitat de Barcelona, c/ Tinent Coronel Valenzuela, 1-11, 08034 Barcelona
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  1. Song, Yan & Zenou, Yves, 2005. "Property Tax and Urban Sprawl: Theory and Implications for U.S. Cities," Working Paper Series 648, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  2. Thomas J. Nechyba & Randall P. Walsh, 2004. "Urban Sprawl," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(4), pages 177-200, Fall.
  3. Ladd, Helen F., 1994. "Fiscal impacts of local population growth: A conceptual and empirical analysis," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 661-686, December.
  4. Sole-Olle, Albert, 2006. "Expenditure spillovers and fiscal interactions: Empirical evidence from local governments in Spain," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 32-53, January.
  5. 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.
  6. Peter Mieszkowski & Edwin S. Mills, 1993. "The Causes of Metropolitan Suburbanization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 135-147, Summer.
  7. Mariam Camarero & Josep Lluis Carrion-i-Silvestre & Cecilio Tamarit, 2006. "New evidence of the real interest rate parity for OECD countries using panel unit root tests with breaks," Working Papers CREAP2006-14, Xarxa de Referència en Economia Aplicada (XREAP), revised Dec 2006.
  8. Duncan Black & Vernon Henderson, 1997. "Urban Growth," NBER Working Papers 6008, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bruce Katz, 2002. "Smart Growth: The Future of the American Metropolis?," CASE Papers case58, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
  10. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:121:y:2006:i:2:p:587-633 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. John I. Carruthers, 2002. "Fragmentation and Sprawl: Evidence from Interregional Analysis," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(3), pages 312-340.
  12. Marcy Burchfield & Henry G. Overman & Diego Puga & Matthew A. Turner, 2005. "Causes of sprawl: A portrait from space," Working Papers tecipa-192, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  13. Brueckner, Jan K & Kim, Hyun-A, 2003. "Urban Sprawl and the Property Tax," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 5-23, January.
  14. Bergstrom, Theodore C & Goodman, Robert P, 1973. "Private Demands for Public Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(3), pages 280-96, June.
  15. Matthew E. Kahn, 2000. "The environmental impact of suburbanization," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4), pages 569-586.
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