An Agent Based Model of Urban Sprawl: York and Cumberland Counties, Maine
Urban sprawl is defined as the movement of populations towards the fringes of urban centers, leading to the conversion of rural land to suburban consumption. This expansion in the distribution of populations has many implications for local and state policymakers, business owners and consumers. In Maine, sprawl is particularly prevalent in Cumberland County and York County, where the state’s population is the densest. The objective of this paper is to develop an agent-based model (ABM), which attempts to reflect the movement of households within these counties. These households make decisions sourced in microeconomic theory that are built into the model. Households seek locations that maximize utility, based on their income and time constraints. This model also incorporates a gravity model of migration to determine the likelihood that a household will migrate to another area when motivated by a higher income. Simulations of the model display characteristics of sprawl, including a decline in population density. Additionally, several policy simulations were conducted to demonstrate the effects on land-use and projected population migration patterns. This model serves as a basis for future exploration and customization to forecast land-use trends, as well as the corollaries of potential economic policies or development.