An Index of Sprawl (Pittsburgh Is Worst)

Peter Coy

You could argue that sprawl is a phony issue.

After all, people have to live somewhere. And why should those ensconced in suburban and rural splendor be allowed to close the gates and prevent more people from coming to live with them?
On the other hand, it's clear that sprawl does matter to a lot of people. A 2000 survey by the Pew Center for Civic Journalism found that 18% of Americans said urban sprawl and land development were the most important issue facing their local community. That was the top response, tied with crime and violence. (Does that mean having a development go up in the cornfield down the road street is as bad as getting mugged?)
Now, there's some fascinating research into the extent and causes of sprawl. First, here are some stats from the research, which appears in the May issue of the Quarterly Journal of Economics:

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