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Cityscape: Volume 24 Number 2 | Measuring Blight


The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Measuring Blight

Volume 24 Number 2

Mark D. Shroder

Michelle P. Matuga

Exploring the Empirical Relationship Between Inner-City Blight and Urban Sprawl in the United States

Eric Fesselmeyer
Monmouth University

Kiat Ying Seah
National University of Singapore

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of HUD or the U.S. Government.

Urban blight has been found to cause a variety of problems, including negatively affecting the value of surrounding properties and increasing neighborhood crime rates. If the same externalities that give rise to urban sprawl also contribute to urban blight, as is suggested by Brueckner and Helsley (2011), city center vacancy rates—an indication of blight—would increase with the extent of urban sprawl. This study adds to the sparse literature on the empirical relationship between urban sprawl and blight by finding that the city-center census tract vacancy rate is higher in more sprawling cities. The results of this article, therefore, provide support for the argument that policies designed to contain urban sprawl could have the advantage of also mitigating urban blight.

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