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What are The Determinants of Local Growth Management Regulations at The Municipal Level and How Do They Affect Urban Sprawl? A Spatial Econometric Analysis


Among other factors, mainly the Swiss federal structure, the principle of subsidiarity and the resulting strong municipal autonomy have increasingly exacerbated coping with the challenges of local growth management in recent years. As a consequence, recent popular referendums at both the national and cantonal level resulted in a strong public call for action.

Although Swiss land use regulations and policies are well-established and advanced, the functioning and modes of action of municipal land use politics remain widely unexamined.

Specific Research Questions

This research project is going to address the following questions: What factors impede the implementation of more effective growth management regulations at the municipal and regional level? Does knowledge on best-practice and effective measures spread across territorial units, and if so, what are the determinants of such knowledge and policy diffusion? What factors promote successful urban containment?

Objectives and Proceeding of the Research Project

The main research objectives are to gain insight on the determinants of municipal land use policies, and their effectiveness for urban containment.

In more detail, the project aims at answering the above questions as follows: A large-scale survey of municipal growth management measures serves as basis for a comprehensive statistical analysis of local political, institutional and socio-economic characteristics as potential determinants of municipal land use politics. Examples for conceivably informative explanatory variables are the administrative capacity of a municipality, the public opinion about the urgency of measures against spatial dispersial, or the balance of political power in a municipality.

In a second analysis, these explanatory factors are correlated with a novel and innovative measure of urban sprawl and its development over the past decades. This allows for insights on how effective specific growth management policies prevent the spatial dispersal of municipalities over time.

Thus, the project aims at developing a typology of urban and rural municipalities, their policy instruments for the regulation of local land use and administrative capacity. Moreover, the project would like to contribute to a better understanding of supportive and hindering factors to the implementation of more effective growth management policies in Swiss municipalities, as well as the determinants of the effectiveness of policies implemented today.