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Is the Journey to Work Explained by Urban Structure?


  • Genevieve Giuliano

    (School of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Southern California, University Park, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA)

  • Kenneth A. Small

    (Department of Economics, University of California, Irvine, USA)


Basic to several key issues in current urban economic theory and public policy is a presumption that local imbalances between employment and residential sites strongly influence people's commuting patterns. We examine this presumption by finding the commuting pattern for the Los Angeles region in 1980 which would minimise average commuting time or distance, given the actual spatial distributions of job and housing locations. We find that the amount of commuting required by these distributions is far less than actual commuting, and that variations in required commuting across job locations only weakly explain variations in actual commuting. We conclude that other factors must be more important to location decisions than commuting cost, and that policies aimed at changing the jobs-housing balance will have only a minor effect on commuting.

Suggested Citation

  • Genevieve Giuliano & Kenneth A. Small, 1993. "Is the Journey to Work Explained by Urban Structure?," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 30(9), pages 1485-1500, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:urbstu:v:30:y:1993:i:9:p:1485-1500

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