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Fiscal Instruments and Land Consumption


Project Information

Even though promoting sustainable spatial development is part of Swiss federal policy and law, land consumption and urban sprawl in Switzerland are progressing at an unsustainable pace. Recent settlement developments tend to be associated with increases in traffic-related pollution, degradation of natural scenery, landscape fragmentation and increasing expenditure on public infrastructure. While spatial planning is the traditional instrument to regulate settlement development, it may also be intentionally or unintentionally affected by various government policies and social developments.

This study investigates how fiscal instruments and incentives affect land consumption<br/>and urban sprawl in Switzerland. An inventory lists those taxes and subsidies that are directly or indirectly linked to the possession and transfer of property and land, which comprise incentives that affect the location and density of private, business and industrial properties. Given Switzerland’s federalist structure, however, these policies differ considerably between cantons. The Swiss tax system has major shortcomings with respect to sustainable spatial development due to the systematic taxation of properties below market value and the existence of a variety of tax-induced incentives that foster mobility and undermine spatial planning policies. Several policies to do with transportation, housing and agriculture, and the economic promotion of locations also include subsidies that affect land consumption. A major driver of urban sprawl is the insufficient internalisation of costs of public infrastructure, especially in the transportation sector. 


Waltert, F.; Pütz, M.; Böni, R.; Seidl, I., 2010: Fiskalische Instrumente und Flächeninanspruchnahme. Birmensdorf, Eidg. Forschungsanstalt WSL; Bern, Bundesamt für Umwelt; Bern, Bundesamt für Raumentwicklung. 94 S. [PDF

Project Team

Reseach Unit Economics and Social Sciences: