Determinants of Urban Sprawl: A Panel Data Approach

Joseph S. DeSalvo, Qing Su


This paper applies fixed effects (within-groups) and between-groups estimations to panel data to test hypotheses of the monocentric urban model with urbanized area data for the period 1990–2010. The paper examines the impact of population, household income, transportation cost, and land rent at the urban fringe on urbanized area spatial size. The fixed effects regression finds that a 1- percent increase in population and a 1- percent decrease in travel cost causes an urbanized area to expand by 1.087 percent and 0.127 percent, respectively. The impact of household income is non-linear. The regression results from the between-groups estimation indicate that geographic and political factors help explain the spatial size differences across urbanized areas. The spatial size of an urbanized area is larger with a higher percentage of the urban fringe overlying aquifers, a higher percentage of local revenues from intergovernmental transfers, a higher percentage of urban fringe incorporated in 1980, and a lower elevation range in the urban fringe.

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