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  The (usually unintended) effects of one person\'s actions on another, over which the latter has no control: they may be either positive (bringing benefits to the recipients) or negative (creating costs or other disadvantages for them). Good examples are provided by a neighbourhood environment: high quality local schools can generate positive externalities (excellent contexts for child-rearing) whereas noisy households (which hold parties late at night) can create costs for people in the locality. Each type of externality may have an influence on property values locally.

Most externalities have only local impacts, with a distance-decay effect in their extent and intensity. (There is usually a density gradient in the spread of a negative externality such as noise, for example: the further you are from its source, the less it affects you.) Because they can impact on people\'s quality of life and the value of their properties, there is frequently conflict over the location of land uses which generate externalities. People compete — through the pricing system in the property market, for example — to be near sources of positive externalities (as shown in studies of the geography of house values in many cities) and may become involved in political action (often of a collective kind: see NIMBY) to exclude negative externality generators from their neighbourhoods (cf. environmental justice). Because of unequal power in housing markets, the more affluent are usually better able to succeed in the elimination of negative externalities from their home areas, and thus to protect their property values, thereby promoting residential segregation. (RJJ)

Suggested Reading Cox, K.R. 1973: Conflict, power and politics in the city: a geographic view. New York: McGraw-Hill. Saunders, P. 1979: Urban politics: a sociological interpretation. London: Penguin Books. Smith, D.M. 1977: Human geography: a welfare approach. London: Edward Arnold.



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Other Terms : commercial geography | market potential model | Tiebout model
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