51st Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "New Challenges for European Regions and Urban Areas in a Globalised World", 30 August - 3 September 2011, Barcelona, Spain
Cities have recently been affected by important changes both as regards their role in general economic growth and their spatial structure. As for the first issue, market globalisation has heightened territorial competition and cities, as places with a concentration of economic activities and workers and potential cradles of innovation, have found a new leading role in determining the future development of the regions and nations they belong to; as for the second issue, improvements in transportation and communication systems have reduced the necessity for proximity, thus leading to a new urban form which has been given many labels (low-density city, scattered city, dispersed city, exploded city, urban sprawl, etc.), but has clearly lost two traditional urban aspects: the territorial concentration of the population and economic activities and the certainty of city boundaries, intended both in physical and administrative terms. The last item is particularly important in territorial contexts, like in Italy, characterised by a large number of small local governments: in fact the spillover of cities from their traditional boundaries has provoked a twofold negative effect, that is, growing difficulties in understanding and in managing urban problems and opportunities. Keeping the described context as a framework, this paper aims to analyse the population movements that affected the chief regional city of Tuscany over a ten-year period (more precisely 1998-2008), in order to deduce their related causes and effects. The model developed was based on microeconomic data and connected the individual characteristics of the people leaving Florence (i.e. age, level of education, family size and composition) to the economic and territorial features of the places of destination (i.e. distance from Florence, real estate prices, social composition and functional mix). This application, based on an ordinarily little used data set, gave statistical evidence to residential choices and some measures of rental effects and search of amenities on urban sprawl. This insight could be reach of political implications. Given the subject-matter, the paper refers both to the literature on causes and patterns of residential mobility and to the one on causes and consequences of urban sprawl.