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Employment Suburbanization and the Journey to Work


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  • Levine, Jonathan C.
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    Large scale suburbanization of employment has dramatically changed transportation and land use planning. Intersuburban commuting now dominates regional highway networks, and the automobile has replaced mass transit for many commutes. Planners' approaches to these developments vary from the pro-centralization approach of many environmentalists and transit advocates to the view that employment suburbanization enhances mobility. In the middle are those planners who seek a geographic match between suburban jobs and suburban housing. This study examines one aspect of the debate on the effects of employment decentralization on regional mobility: the impact of growing suburban employment on the commutes of different income groups. This study suggests that suburban employment centers with high levels of multifamily housing will exhibit commute patterns in which household income and commute distance are largely independent. In contrast, In suburban areas where the development of dense housing has not kept pace with employment growth, it is hypothesized that new commute patterns are emerging wherein lower income households commute greater distances than their upper income counterparts. This pattern would be the reverse of the prediction of monocentric urban models for central city employment. These hypotheses are tested for San Francisco Bay Area communities using data from 1981 and 1989. Bivariate analyses generally supported the predicted effects of community employment base and housing stock on commute patterns by income. Nested multinomial logit models of the household residential location decision were estimated for workers in San Ramon and in northern Santa Clara County. The models appeared to demonstrate a positive effect of the availability of multifamily housing on the residential location decisions of low to moderate income households. In addition, workplace accessibility in general emerged as a powerful determinant of residential location. Forecasts of commute patterns using the estimated models indicated a potential for reducing long distance commutes by low to moderate income households through a policy encouraging multifamily housing construction in the vicinity of suburban employment centers.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by University of California Transportation Center in its series University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers with number qt05c8750h.

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    Date of creation: 01 Jan 1990
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:cdl:uctcwp:qt05c8750h

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    Keywords: Social and Behavioral Sciences;


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    1. Cervero, Robert, 1989. "Jobs-Housing Balancing and Regional Mobility," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt7mx3k73h, University of California Transportation Center.
    2. Masahisa Fujita, 1985. "Towards general equilibrium models of urban land use," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 36(1), pages 135-168.
    3. White, Michelle J., 1988. "Location choice and commuting behavior in cities with decentralized employment," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 129-152, September.
    4. Rosen, Sherwin, 1974. "Hedonic Prices and Implicit Markets: Product Differentiation in Pure Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 34-55, Jan.-Feb..
    5. Mahlon R. Straszheim, 1975. "An Econometric Analysis of the Urban Housing Market," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number stra75-1, June.
    6. Daly, Andrew, 1987. "Estimating "tree" logit models," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 251-267, August.
    7. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416.
    8. D. McFadden & J. Hausman, 1981. "Specification Tests for the Multinominal Logit Model," Working papers 292, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    9. Cremer, Helmuth, 1990. "Residential choice and the supply of local public goods," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 168-187, March.
    10. Quigley, John M., 2006. "Urban Economics," Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy, Working Paper Series qt0jr0p2tk, Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy.
    11. Persky, Joseph, 1990. "Suburban income inequality : Three theories and a few facts," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 125-137, June.
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