Revisiting Highway Effects on Population Change

Guangqing Chi, Mississippi State University

The effects of highway construction on population growth have been explained by several theories accompanied with numerous empirical studies, which lead to different definitions of the role that highways play in affecting economic and population growth. This research takes a synthetic spatial approach to study highway effects on population growth at the municipal level in the 1980s and 1990s in Wisconsin. Specifically, the relationship is examined by synthetically considering population growth’s driving factors, systematically selecting the optimal spatial weight matrix for spatial regression modeling, and simultaneously incorporating spatial lag and spatial error dependence into a spatial regression model. The findings suggest that after controlling other driving factors of population growth and spatial dependence in the variables and models’ residuals, highway construction has no significant impacts on population growth in both the centralization and decentralization processes –– an observation different from many existing studies.

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Presented in Session 132: Spatial Demography