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The impact of residential density on vehicle usage and fuel consumption

  • Kim, Jinwon
  • Brownstone, David

This paper investigates the impact of residential density on vehicle usage and fuel consumption. The empirical model accounts for both residential self-selection effects and non-random missing data problems. While most previous studies focus on a specific region, this paper analyzes national level data from the 2001 National Household Travel Survey. Comparing two households that are equal in all respects except residential density, the household residing in an area that is 1000 housing units per square mile denser (roughly 50% of the sample average) will drive 1500 (7.8%) less miles per year and will consume 70 (7.5%) fewer gallons of fuel than the household in the less dense area. The effect of the contextual density measure (density in the context of its surrounding area) is quantitatively larger than the sole effect of residential density. A simulation moving a household from suburban to urban area reduces household annual mileage by 15%.

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Paper provided by University of California Transportation Center in its series University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers with number qt31m0w2x3.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cdl:uctcwp:qt31m0w2x3
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  1. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
  2. Hausman, Jerry, 2015. "Specification tests in econometrics," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 38(2), pages 112-134.
  3. Bhat, Chandra R. & Guo, Jessica Y., 2007. "A comprehensive analysis of built environment characteristics on household residential choice and auto ownership levels," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 41(5), pages 506-526, June.
  4. Salon, Deborah, 2009. "Neighborhoods, cars, and commuting in New York City: A discrete choice approach," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 180-196, February.
  5. Matthew E. Kahn, 2000. "The environmental impact of suburbanization," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4), pages 569-586.
  6. Brownstone, David & Golob, Thomas F., 2009. "The impact of residential density on vehicle usage and energy consumption," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 91-98, January.
  7. Antonio M. Bento & Maureen L. Cropper & Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak & Katja Vinha, 2005. "The Effects of Urban Spatial Structure on Travel Demand in the United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 466-478, August.
  8. Boarnet, Marlon & Crane, Randall, 2001. "The influence of land use on travel behavior: specification and estimation strategies," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 35(9), pages 823-845, November.
  9. Bento, Antonio M. & Cropper, Maureen L. & Mobarak, Ahmed Mushfiq & Vinha, Katja, 2003. "The impact of urban spatial structure on travel demand in the United States," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3007, The World Bank.
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