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Suburbanization and the Automobile

Author

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  • Ming Hong Suen
  • Karen Kopecky

Abstract

In 1910 the average American city was a small and densely populated place where the dominant form of intracity transportation was the electric streetcar. Despite the release of the Model T in 1908, less than one percent of Americans owned a car. In contrast, by 1970, almost every family in the US owned at least one automobile. Not only did city size grow between 1910 and 1970, but city population became more evenly spread around the city center: suburbanization. Can the adoption of the automobile account for the decentralization observed throughout US cities during this period? A model of a linear city is developed in which agents choose both whether or not to own a car, and where to live. The model?s steady state is calibrated and estimated to the US data. Declining automobile prices are used to account for increased automobile ownership and suburbanization. The model is able to match the data on car ownership and decentralization for the period 1910 to 1970

Suggested Citation

  • Ming Hong Suen & Karen Kopecky, 2004. "Suburbanization and the Automobile," 2004 Meeting Papers 134, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed004:134
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    Cited by:

    1. 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, vol. 45(2), pages 423-438, October.
    2. Gilles Duranton & Matthew A. Turner, 2012. "Urban Growth and Transportation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(4), pages 1407-1440.
    3. Leah Platt Boustan & Robert A. Margo, 2011. "White Suburbanization and African-American Home Ownership, 1940-1980," NBER Working Papers 16702, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Automobiles; Suburbanization; Cities;

    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
    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations
    • R1 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics

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