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Realizing proximity in times of deregulation and densification: Evaluating urban change from a welfare regime perspective

Bertil Vilhelmson and Erik Elldér

Journal of Transport Geography, 2021, vol. 94, issue C

Abstract: We evaluate changes in proximity (in terms of walkability) to essential services in the city region of Gothenburg, Sweden, 1994–2014, when sustainability policy goals were set to promote urban densification and non-motorized mobility. Simultaneously, public services were deregulated, reducing political capacity to control their accessibility. Considering this tension and welfare regime theory, we investigate to what extent typically regulated and deregulated services (libraries, pharmacies, primary schools, and grocery stores) have come closer to the population in areas of different densities and centralities. We draw on unique micro-level data comprising the detailed locations of population and services analyzed using decomposition. Results indicate that services the most (libraries) and least (grocery stores) controlled by public policy decreased in proximity. In contrast, recently deregulated services (pharmacies and primary schools) became more accessible by foot due to disruptive market change. While population relocation reduced the proportion of people living near the services, the changing geography of amenities was a more important driver of proximity change. We argue that sustainability goals to realize proximity have far-reaching repercussions for urban governance, emphasizing the need to assess proximity changes at detailed scale levels.

Date: 2021
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:jotrge:v:94:y:2021:i:c:s0966692321001514

DOI: 10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2021.103098

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