Study Examines Effects of Population Sprawl

April 15, 2014

People in compact, connected metropolitan regions are more likely to move up the economic ladder, have lower household costs, enjoy more transportation choices and lead longer, safer, healthier lives according to a new report out by Smart Growth America.

Measuring Sprawl 2014 evaluates development in 221 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. with a population of 200,000 in 2010, and ranks these areas based on how sprawling or compact they are. Sprawl has been linked to physical inactivity, obesity and traffic fatalities. Counties with less sprawl have more car crashes, but fewer of those crashes are fatal.

“This is the most extensive study to date to define and measure the costs and benefits of sprawl development,” said Reid Ewing, director of the University of Utah’s Metropolitan Research Center and primary author of the new research.“We found that as a region’s scores improved—that is, as an area sprawled less—several quality of life factors improved along with them, including greater economic mobility, lower combined costs of housing and transportation and higher life expectancies. This research demonstrates the many ways our development decisions impact us every day, and informs how better development practices can improve our quality of life.”

Source: University of Utah/Smart Growth America

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