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As many local and state governments in the United States grapple with increasing growth pressures, the need to understand the economic and institutional factors underlying these pressures has taken on added urgency. From an economic perspective, individual land use decisions play a central role in the manifestation of growth pressures, as changes in land use pattern are the cumulative result of numerous individual decisions regarding the use of lands. In this study, the issue of growth management is addressed by developing a spatially disaggregated, microeconomic model of land conversion decisions suitable for describing residential land use change at the rural-urban fringe. The model employs parcel-level data on land use in Calvert County, Maryland, a rapidly growing rural-urban fringe county. A probabilistic model of residential land use change is estimated using a duration model, and the parameter estimates are employed to simulate possible future growth scenarios under alternative growth management scenarios. Results suggest that "smart growth" objectives are best met when policies aimed at concentrating growth in target areas are implemented in tandem with policies designed to preserve rural or open space lands.


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