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"Transit Makes you Short": On Health Impact Assessment of Transportation and the Built Environment

Author

Listed:
  • Alireza Ermagun
  • David Levinson

    () (Nexus (Networks, Economics, and Urban Systems) Research Group, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota)

Abstract

The current research provides a test framework to understand whether and to what extent increasing public transit use and accessibility by transit affect health. To this end, the effect of transit mode share and accessibility by transit on general health, body mass index, and height are investigated, while controlling for socioeconomic, demographic, and physical activity factors. The coefficient-p-value-sample-size chart is created and effect size analysis are conducted to explore whether the transit use is practically significant. Building on the results of the analysis, we found that the transit mode share and accessibility by transit are not practically significant, and the power of large-sample misrepresents the effect of transit on public health. The results, also, highlight the importance of data and variable selection by portraying a significant correlation between transit use and height in a multivariate regression analysis. What becomes clear from this study is that in spite of the mushrooming interdisciplinary studies in the nexus of transportation and health arena, researchers often propose short- and long-term policies blindly, while failing to report the inherent explanatory power of variables. We show that there is a thin line between false positive and true negative results. From the weakness of p-values perspective, further, we strove to alert both researchers and practitioners to the dangerous pitfall deriving from the power of large- samples. Building the results on just significance and sign of the parameter of interest is worthless, unless the magnitude of effect size is carefully quantified post analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Alireza Ermagun & David Levinson, 2015. ""Transit Makes you Short": On Health Impact Assessment of Transportation and the Built Environment," Working Papers 000128, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:nex:wpaper:transitmakesyoushort
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/11299/179812
    File Function: First version, 2015
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Aaron S. Edlin & Pinar Karaca-Mandic, 2006. "The Accident Externality from Driving," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(5), pages 931-955, October.
    2. Morency, Catherine & Trépanier, Martin & Demers, Marie, 2011. "Walking to transit: An unexpected source of physical activity," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 800-806, November.
    3. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2003:93:9:1546-1551_1 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. P. Filliger & M. Herry & F. Horak & V. Puybonnieux-Texier & P. Quenel & J. Schneider & R.K. Seethaler & J.C. Vernaud & H. Sommer & N. Künzli & R. Kaiser & S. Medina & M. Studnicka & Olivier Chanel, 2000. "Public-health impact of outdoor and traffic-related air pollution: a European assessment," Post-Print hal-01462907, HAL.
    5. Richard Wener & Gary Evans & Donald Phillips & Natasha Nadler, 2003. "Running for the 7:45: The effects of public transit improvements on commuter stress," Transportation, Springer, vol. 30(2), pages 203-220, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public transit; BRFSS data; ACS data; Accessibility to jobs; p-hacking;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • B23 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Econometrics; Quantitative and Mathematical Studies
    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • C18 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Methodolical Issues: General
    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise
    • R42 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government and Private Investment Analysis; Road Maintenance; Transportation Planning

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