What Drives Cities’ Runaway Growth?

Read the full post at NYT Green.

Urban areas are growing even faster than urban population is, and by 2030 urbanized land around the globe will expand by 590,000 square miles — an amount almost equal to the land mass of Mongolia, according to a new study.

The rapid urbanization occurring around the world, particularly in China and India, is the product not just of population growth or economic growth. Other factors, including land-use policies, government agricultural subsidies and the cost of transportation, are also driving the trend, according to a new analysis of about 300 studies on cities around the world conducted from 1970 to 2000.

And, in a finding surprising to anyone who knows the history of cities like Los Angeles, the authors write that “urban growth is driven, at least in part, by the economic incentives of local officials to increase their revenue by obtaining rural land and transferring land use rights to developers.”

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