Date of Award

8-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Economics

Major Professor

William F. Fox

Committee Members

Thomas P. Boehm, Donald J. Bruce, Matthew N. Murray

Abstract

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.

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