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Conference paper2020Peer reviewedOpen access

A systematic review of the scientifically demonstrated effects of densification

Berghauser Pont, Meta; Berg, Per; Haupt, Per; Heyman, Axel


One of the current dominant strategies proposed for sustainable urban development is densification. UN Habitat prescribes a density of over 150 inhabitants per hectare to realize the UN Sustainable Development Goals. While some authors advocate the very reasonable benefits of density, others emphasize the potential drawbacks. The main goal of this paper is to provide a systematic review of international research on urban density and its potential benefits and drawbacks for sustainable urban development. 1208 articles were selected from Web of Science and after the screening of abstracts, 330 papers were found eligible to be included in the quantitative synthesis. Results show that the effects of densification that dominate literature are transport related studies (41%), followed by studies focusing on economics (14%), social effects (12%) and human health (11%). Least studied effects are resource efficiency (1%), service (3%) and urban environment (4%). Positive correlations with higher density are reported for transport and economics, while ecology, social impact and health show mainly negative correlations with higher density. The findings reported are generic as similar trends are found in North America, Asia and Europe and only minor differences in outcome are found in studies using different measures of density, unit or scale of analysis.

Published in

IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science
2020, Volume: 588


BEYOND 2020 – World Sustainable Built Environment conference

    Associated SLU-program


    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Landscape Architecture

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)