Density and scattered development: a tale of 10 Cities

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Themes such as sprawl, compact city, leapfrogging, have been out of the economics literature for a long time despite the great interest of urban planners and citizens in general. This is changing fast since the 2000s. The Lincoln Institute has been playing a major role in the growth of this new agenda of research. One of the most relevant papers in theeconomics of sprawl (Buchfield et al, 2006) was first issued as a Lincoln Institute Working Paper in 2002. The Lincoln's Policy Focus Report by Angel et al (2011) represents the summary of a long run research pioneering in making a global sample with a very finedefinition. The former literature on density confuses causes and consequences. In part this is related to the fact that this phenomenon is very difficult to measure. The alternative envisioned in Clawson (1962) and applied in Bruchfield et al (2006) and Angel (2011) uses satellite images and its possibilities as a source of information for creating meaningful indicators of sprawl and density. The main assumption is that a clear conceptual and operational definition can facilitate research on the causes and consequences of sprawl and under or over density. This working paper build upon this new tradition of research and focus first on Latin America in the 1990s and then on 10 large metropolitan areas in Brazil in the last 15 years or so.

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