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Data and Measurement Issues in Transportation, With Telecommuting as a Case Study

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  • Mokhtarian, Patricia L
  • Salomon, Ilan
  • Choo, Sangho

Abstract

Using transportation and other social science data examples, and focusing in depth on telecommuting, we demonstrate that definitions, measurement instruments, sampling and sometimes vested interests affect the quality and utility even of seemingly objective and "measurable" data. Little consensus exists with respect to the definition of telecommuting, or to possible distinctions from related terms such as teleworking. Such a consensus is unlikely, since the "best" definition of telecommuting depends on one's point of reference and purpose. However, differing definitions confound efforts to measure the amount of telecommuting and how it is changing over time. This paper evaluates estimates of the amounts of telecommuting occurring in the U. S. obtained from several different sources: the U. S. Census, the American Housing Survey, several Work at Home supplements to the Current Population Survey, a series of market research surveys, and the trade association-sponsored Telework America surveys. Many of the issues raised here are transferable to other contexts, and indirectly serve as suggestions for improving data collection in the future.

Suggested Citation

  • Mokhtarian, Patricia L & Salomon, Ilan & Choo, Sangho, 2004. "Data and Measurement Issues in Transportation, With Telecommuting as a Case Study," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt9pt8s9jv, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:itsdav:qt9pt8s9jv
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Skamris, Mette K. & Flyvbjerg, Bent, 1997. "Inaccuracy of traffic forecasts and cost estimates on large transport projects," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 141-146, July.
    2. Joanne Pratt, 2000. "Asking the right questions about telecommuting: Avoiding pitfalls in surveying homebased work," Transportation, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 99-116, February.
    3. Mokhtarian, Patricia L, 1991. "Defining Telecommuting," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt35c4q71r, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    4. Handy, Susan & Mokhtarian, Patricia, 1996. "The Future of Telecommuting," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt5nm777c1, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    5. Patricia L. Mokhtarian, 1998. "A Synthetic Approach to Estimating the Impacts of Telecommuting on Travel," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 35(2), pages 215-241, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pawlak, Jacek & Polak, John W. & Sivakumar, Aruna, 2015. "Towards a microeconomic framework for modelling the joint choice of activity–travel behaviour and ICT use," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 92-112.
    2. Patricia Mokhtarian & Ilan Salomon & Sangho Choo, 2005. "Measuring the Measurable: Why can’t we Agree on the Number of Telecommuters in the U.S.?," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 39(4), pages 423-452, August.

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    Keywords

    UCD-ITS-RR-04-29; Engineering;

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