Modeling residential sorting effects to understand the impact of the built environment on commute mode choice
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This paper presents an examination of the significance of residential sorting or self selection effects in understanding the impacts of the built environment on travel choices. Land use and transportation system attributes are often treated as exogenous variables in models of travel behavior. Such models ignore the potential self selection processes that may be at play wherein households and individuals choose to locate in areas or built environments that are consistent with their lifestyle and transportation preferences, attitudes, and values. In this paper, a simultaneous model of residential location choice and commute mode choice that accounts for both observed and unobserved taste variations that may contribute to residential self selection is estimated on a survey sample extracted from the 2000 San Francisco Bay Area household travel survey. Model results show that both observed and unobserved residential self selection effects do exist; however, even after accounting for these effects, it is found that built environment attributes can indeed significantly impact commute mode choice behavior. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of the model findings for policy planning.
KeywordsCausality Heterogeneity Joint model Built environment Residential self-selection Travel behavior
This research has been funded in part by Environmental Protection Agency Grant R831837. The authors would like to thank Jessica Guo and Rachel Copperman for providing help with data related issues. Thanks to Lisa Macias for her help in formatting this document. Four anonymous referees provided valuable comments on an earlier version of this paper.
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