What’s driving the remarkable decline of urban sprawl in the US? A new study from OSU Applied Economics professor Dave Lewis and OSU Applied Economics PhD graduates Dan Bigelow and Chris Mihiar finds that a primary culprit has been rising gas prices—spurring denser development in communities across the country.

Rising gas prices prevented the development of 4.19 million acres of forest and agricultural land in the U.S. between 2000 and 2015, according to the study. The findings enhance understanding of the dynamics underlying urban sprawl.

Source: Bigelow D.P. et al. “A major shift in U.S. land development avoids significant losses in forest and agricultural land.” Environmental Research Letters 2022.