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Suburbanization and the Automobile

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Abstract

During the period 1910 to 1970, an increasing fraction of the urban population in the US chose to live on the outskirts of central cities. This was also a time when a major innovation in transportation technology, the automobile, was introduced and widely adopted. The objective of this paper is to assess quantitatively the relationship between the two. To achieve this, a simple model is constructed in which agents can choose where to live and whether or not to buy a car. When the model is calibrated, it can explain about 70 percent of the rise in car-ownership over the period 1910 to 1970 and all of the suburbanization trend. According to the model, rising income and falling car prices alone are not enough to generate the suburbanization trend. It is essential to have also: (i) a declining cost of commuting by car which allows car-owners to live further away from the city center, and (ii) a rising cost of using public transportation which encourages agents to make the swith to automobiles.

Suggested Citation

  • Karen A. Kopecky & Richard M. H. Suen, 2004. "Suburbanization and the Automobile," Economie d'Avant Garde Research Reports 6, Economie d'Avant Garde, revised May 2005.
  • Handle: RePEc:eag:rereps:6
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    Cited by:

    1. Gilles Duranton & Matthew A. Turner, 2012. "Urban Growth and Transportation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(4), pages 1407-1440.
    2. Ching-to Albert Ma & Henry Y. Mak, 2014. "Public Report, Price, and Quality," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, pages 443-464.
    3. Dan Li & T. Lakshmanan & Chun-Yu Ho & W. Anderson, 2010. "An empirical analysis of household choices on housing and travel mode in Boston," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, pages 423-438.
    4. Robert A. Margo & Leah Platt Boustan, 2011. "White Suburbanization And African-American Home Ownership, 1940-1980," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2011-024, Boston University - Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    automobiles; suburbanization; population density gradients;

    JEL classification:

    • E10 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - General
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)

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