Defining and Measuring Sprawl

January 01, 2001

Funding: Fannie Mae Foundation

Summary: This project reviewed the literature on sprawl and concluded that it was a poorly defined and ambiguous concept. It then defined sprawl conceptually and operationalized it as seven patterns of land use, each of which consisted of a continuum ranging from very sprawl-like to very unsprawl-like. Each of these dimensions was then operationalized so that it could be calculated for urbanized areas. As an illustration, calculations on each of the dimensions were made for 13 urbanized areas and a standardized sprawl score was calculated for each.