Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Highway System Drives City Population Declines

14.06.2007
Examining the phenomenon of suburbanization in America, Brown University economist Nathaniel Baum-Snow shows the extent to which the construction of new highways contributed to population declines in cities. He estimates that each new highway passing through a city reduces its population by about 18 percent, making the national road network a major impetus for suburbanization and sprawl of U.S. cities. His findings are published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics.
Construction of the American highway system in the late 20th century played a key role in causing population declines in central cities, according to new research by Brown University economist Nathaniel Baum-Snow published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics and available online [ abstract | pdf ].

While past studies have posited various explanations for suburbanization, such as improved telecommunications technology, city school desegregation, housing project construction, rising crime rates, and faster commuting options, Baum-Snow’s paper is the first to empirically account for the relative importance of transportation improvements in causing city population declines in the United States since World War II. Using unique data, Baum-Snow demonstrates that one new highway passing through a central city reduces its population by about 18 percent. Furthermore, he asserts that rather than the observed decline of 17 percent, the nation’s city populations would have grown by about 8 percent overall had the interstate highway system not been built.

“The Federal Highway Act of 1944 stipulated that highways should be built primarily to serve the national defense – so, suburbanization was essentially an unintended consequence,” Baum-Snow said. “Without the more than 40 thousand miles of interstate roads built by 1990, urban decentralization would have probably still taken place, but the population shift would not have been nearly as sizable.”

To compare rates of suburbanization in metropolitan areas that received many new highways between 1950 and 1990 to those receiving fewer during the same period, Baum-Snow created a unique data set. Using data on 139 large metropolitan areas and information from a 1947 plan of the highway system, he measured the highways as “rays” emanating from central cities – a “ray” is defined as a segment of road that connects the central business district of the central city with the region outside the central city.

“The estimates put forth in this paper are certainly relevant and applicable to current transportation infrastructure planning in urban areas in developing countries including China and India,” said Baum-Snow. “Urban transportation planners should consider that building a highway system through urban areas has the potential to dramatically change where people choose to live and how much land is developed.”

Baum-Snow is an assistant professor of economics and is affiliated with both the Population Studies and Training Center at Brown University and Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences (S4). He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago in 2005.

Editors: Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews, and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call (401) 863-2476.

Deborah Baum | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.brown.edu

More articles from Business and Finance:

nachricht Preferential trade agreements enhance global trade at the expense of its resilience
17.02.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht How Strong Brands Translate into Money
15.11.2016 | Kühne Logistics University - Wissenschaftliche Hochschule für Logistik und Unternehmensführung

All articles from Business and Finance >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Positrons as a new tool for lithium ion battery research: Holes in the electrode

22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New insights into the information processing of motor neurons

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Healthy Hiking in Smart Socks

22.02.2017 | Innovative Products

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>