Letters in Spatial and Resource Sciences

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 205–214 | Cite as

Urban sprawl in Madrid?

An analysis of the urban growth of Madrid during the last quarter of the twentieth century
  • Fernando Rubiera Morollón
  • Víctor M. González Marroquín
  • José L. Pérez Rivero
Original Paper


Urban sprawl is a common phenomenon in cities that have grown following the generalized use of private vehicles as the main means of transport. Although it has not been a frequent phenomenon in Europe, many cities on the old continent have begun to sprawl in recent decades. This paper analyses the case of Madrid using Geographical Information Systems, interpreting the results within the theoretical framework of a monocentric city model (Alonso, Toward a general theory of land rent. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1964). Georeferenced digital maps built from the integration of information from different photogrammetric flights made between 1974 and 2002 were used to carry out the study. Several indicators were developed that report on the rate of urban growth and the density and the degree of sprawl. Our analysis shows that Madrid is still essentially a compact city, although its more recent development has begun to correspond to the pattern of urban sprawl. We also found that the city tends to grow in the periphery before using up available land in areas closer to the centre, showing the leapfrogging behaviour identified in other cases.


Monocentrism Polycentrism Urban sprawl Leapfrogging Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Urban economics and Madrid (Spain) 

JEL Classification

R11 R14 R50 R52 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fernando Rubiera Morollón
    • 1
  • Víctor M. González Marroquín
    • 1
  • José L. Pérez Rivero
    • 1
  1. 1.Regional Economics Laboratory-REGIOlabUniversity of OviedoOviedoSpain

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