Costs of Sprawl

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Across the nation, the debate over metropolitan sprawl and its impacts continues. In this study for the National Cancer Institute, the Brookings Institution, and Smart Growth America, we began by developing refined versions of the indices that incorporate more measures of the built environment. The refined indices capture four distinct dimensions of sprawl, thereby characterizing sprawl in all its complexity. We then validated our indices against data on journey to work, traffic fatalities, and obesity, physical activity, and chronic diseases.  Next, we related sprawl indices to three topics of recent popular interest, for which new datasets have been released. The three are life expectancy, housing plus transportation costs, and upward economic mobility. Finally, we conducted one of the first longitudinal analysis of sprawl to see which areas are sprawling more over time, and which are sprawling less or actually becoming more compact. Results have been published in the Journal of Planning Education and Research, Urban Studies, Landscape and Urban Planning, and Health and Place. This talk will summarize the entire project.

Ewing’s work is aimed at planning practitioners. His eight books include Pedestrian and Transit Oriented Design, just co-published by the Urban Land Institute and American Planning Association; and Best Development Practices, listed by the American Planning Association (APA) as one of the 100 “essential” books in planning over the past 100 years.  His 90 peer reviewed articles include "Relationship Between Urban Sprawl and Physical Activity, Obesity, and Morbidity," the most widely cited academic paper in the Social Sciences as of late 2005, according to Essential Science Indicators.


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    Jessie Brandon
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    Fletcher Moore
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