The phrase suburban sprawl is a pejorative term that has not only become part of the popular lexicon of cities but is also shorthand for all that is ugly, inefficient, crass, and dysfunctional in metropolitan areas. Although commonly discussed in a North American context, sprawling development patterns may also be found elsewhere, notably in Europe, Australia, and more recently, China. Despite its widespread use, there often is lacking in the literature proper empirical support for or sufficient definition of the term, resulting in some confusion among conditions, causes, and impacts. However, whatever imprecision may plague its definition, the land use patterns characterized as suburban sprawl are recognized as being the result of a combination of such political factors as land economics, tax policies, zoning regulations, ...

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