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Cross-sectional and quasi-panel explorations of the connection between the built environment and auto ownership

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  • Xinyu Cao
  • Patricia L Mokhtarian
  • Susan L Handy

Abstract

Auto ownership is a critical mediating link in the connection between the built environment and travel behavior: the built environment presumably influences auto ownership, which in turn impacts travel behavior. However, the way in which individual elements of the built environment affect auto-ownership choices is far from understood. Further, residential self-selection may confound the interaction between the built environment and auto ownership. And the absence of panel data impedes our understanding of the causal relationships. Using a survey of 1682 respondents in Northern California, we applied ordered probit and static-score modeling techniques to investigate the causal link from the built environment to auto ownership in both cross-sectional and quasi-panel contexts. Through variable selection in cross-sectional analysis, we found that individuals’ attitudes regarding residential neighborhood and travel are more strongly associated with their auto-ownership decision than is the built environment per se. Specifically, when general preferences for various neighborhood traits were allowed to enter the model, they drove out from the model the (perceived) measure of the same trait for the neighborhood of current residence, a pattern suggesting that the observed correlation between neighborhood characteristics and auto ownership is primarily a result of self-selection. On the other hand, the quasi-panel results indicate that some built-environment elements such as outdoor spaciousness and mixed land use are causes of auto ownership (remaining even after attitudes were allowed to enter the model), but their effects are marginal. In contrast, the strong influence of sociodemographics suggests that households’ auto-ownership decisions are fundamentally based on their mobility needs and purchasing power. Given the mixed findings, we do not definitively confirm a causal relationship between the built environment and auto ownership. However, we provide encouraging evidence that land-use policies designed to reduce auto ownership and use will lead to a marginal reduction in auto ownership.

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  • Xinyu Cao & Patricia L Mokhtarian & Susan L Handy, 2007. "Cross-sectional and quasi-panel explorations of the connection between the built environment and auto ownership," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 39(4), pages 830-847, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:39:y:2007:i:4:p:830-847
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    1. Patricia L. Mokhtarian & Michael N. Bagley, 2002. "The impact of residential neighborhood type on travel behavior: A structural equations modeling approach," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 36(2), pages 279-297.
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    4. Cervero, Robert, 1996. "Mixed land-uses and commuting: Evidence from the American Housing Survey," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 361-377, September.
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    1. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:10:p:1774-:d:113830 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Macfarlane, Gregory S. & Garrow, Laurie A. & Mokhtarian, Patricia L., 2015. "The influences of past and present residential locations on vehicle ownership decisions," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 186-200.
    3. Frank Goetzke & Tilmann Rave, 2015. "Automobile access, peer effects and happiness," Transportation, Springer, vol. 42(5), pages 791-805, September.
    4. Soltani, Ali, 2017. "Social and urban form determinants of vehicle ownership; evidence from a developing country," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 90-100.
    5. repec:eee:trapol:v:65:y:2018:i:c:p:126-136 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Abu Oakil & Dick Ettema & Theo Arentze & Harry Timmermans, 2014. "Changing household car ownership level and life cycle events: an action in anticipation or an action on occurrence," Transportation, Springer, vol. 41(4), pages 889-904, July.
    7. Scheiner, Joachim & Chatterjee, Kiron & Heinen, Eva, 2016. "Key events and multimodality: A life course approach," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 148-165.
    8. Van Acker, Veronique & Mokhtarian, Patricia L. & Witlox, Frank, 2014. "Car availability explained by the structural relationships between lifestyles, residential location, and underlying residential and travel attitudes," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 88-99.
    9. repec:eee:transa:v:100:y:2017:i:c:p:65-80 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Jahanshahi, Kaveh & Jin, Ying & Williams, Ian, 2015. "Direct and indirect influences on employed adults’ travel in the UK: New insights from the National Travel Survey data 2002–2010," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 288-306.
    11. Xinyu Cao & Patricia Mokhtarian & Susan Handy, 2007. "Do changes in neighborhood characteristics lead to changes in travel behavior? A structural equations modeling approach," Transportation, Springer, vol. 34(5), pages 535-556, September.
    12. repec:eee:jotrge:v:68:y:2018:i:c:p:193-204 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Cao, Xinyu & Mokhtarian, Patricia & Handy, Susan, 2008. "Examining The Impacts of Residential Self-Selection on Travel Behavior: Methodologies and Empirical Findings," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt08x1k476, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    14. Scheiner, Joachim, 2014. "Residential self-selection in travel behavior: Towards an integration into mobility biographies," The Journal of Transport and Land Use, Center for Transportation Studies, University of Minnesota, vol. 7(3), pages 15-28.
    15. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:4:p:558-:d:95081 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Jie Lin & Liang Long, 2008. "What neighborhood are you in? Empirical findings of relationships between household travel and neighborhood characteristics," Transportation, Springer, vol. 35(6), pages 739-758, November.
    17. Sehatzadeh, Bahareh & Noland, Robert B. & Weiner, Marc D., 2011. "Walking frequency, cars, dogs, and the built environment," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 45(8), pages 741-754, October.

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