Urban Sprawl Essay Introduction


Essay 1

Sprawl is an ill-defined and complex concept and this contributes to the difficulties in addressing it. Many studies and local policies are implemented without defining the very situation that is trying to be prevented. In this dissertation, I address this issue by computing and empirically testing a number of different measures that capture some of the elements of sprawl. While controlling for a number of other explanatory factors, I examine different fiscal factors that may contribute to the level of sprawl an area experiences. Because the property tax is the predominant source of local tax revenue, my main focus is on the impact that property tax rates have on sprawl in metropolitan areas. I next examine how the reliance on different types of revenue sources influence sprawl. I then offer insight into how local governments may use this information to look at their own sprawl issues. I find that higher property taxes are found in areas with lower degrees of sprawl, but that greater property tax differentials result in more sprawl.

Essay 2

The second essay of this dissertation addresses one of the inefficiencies often attributed to sprawl: the increase in the cost of delivering public services. Although this is one of the most common complaints concerning sprawl, there have been few studies examining how sprawl impacts public service costs. Using the same sprawl measures as in the first essay, I examine how differing levels of sprawl impact the costs of not only total public service expenditures, but also a number of local services important to residents. With this essay, I contribute to the debate on the relationship between sprawl and public service costs. The results of this study show that sprawl has a very limited relationship with most types of local public service expenditures.

Recommended Citation

Marshall, Julie L., "Essays on Urban Sprawl. " PhD diss., University of Tennessee, 2008.

Urban Sprawl Essay

3380 Words14 Pages

An emerging issue is that of urban sprawl. While some aspects of urban sprawl has been seen since ancient times, this phenomenon has started gaining the most momentum in the past century, aided by the advancement of technology, especially with the rise of mass produced automobiles, houses and highway systems. Many people unknowingly contribute to this environmental problem, as is the nature of it. Urban sprawl deals with the growth of the suburbs, the area between the urban and rural areas of a city. Most of America’s largest cities and states, in terms of population, are prime examples of urban sprawl. Opponents of urban sprawl usually cite the government as a major cause of sprawl. The government may be a major catalyst of…show more content…

The wealthiest often would have the most space in the city, while the class directly below them would be cramped within the city yet separate from the wealthiest of them all. This cramped lifestyle was not very pleasing to majority of the population, yet many chose to live there because of necessity. The outsides of the city walls, known as the suburbia, housed the people that could not afford life inside the city. Despite poor dwellings in the suburban areas, people still praised and wrote about the pleasant suburban life, as they could escape the atrocious, cramped and uncomfortable city. The sprawling of the urban population became more apparent in London a few centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, where people now had money to build or buy houses outside the city limits. These areas were much cleaner and quieter than the main city, similar to the characteristics of cities in Rome. (Bruegmann)
In America, sprawl became much more noticeable in the 1950s. The first noticeable and prominent example of the growth of the suburbs in America is Levittown, built in 1948 on Long Island, New York. This community was advertised and intended for post-war America and for returning veterans and their families. Americans perceived it to be a new and cheap housing community, and the houses and communities were attractive to the new residents, with many of them coming from urban areas (Hales). People sought to escape the

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