Transportation

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 441–461 | Cite as

Explaining the “immigrant effect” on auto use: the influences of neighborhoods and preferences

Article

Abstract

Since immigrants will account for most urban growth in the United States for the foreseeable future, better understanding their travel patterns is a critical task for transportation and land use planners. Immigrants initially travel in personal vehicles far less than the US-born, even when controlling for demographics, but their reliance on autos increases the longer they live in the US. Cultural or habitual differences, followed by assimilation to auto use, could partly explain this pattern; and it may also be partly due to changes in locations and characteristics of home and work neighborhoods. Previous studies have rarely investigated non-work travel, and have not tested workplace land use measures, compared the relative influences of enclave and home neighborhood measures, or looked at the role of culturally-bound residential preferences or motivations for migration. This study relies on a unique and rich dataset consisting of a survey of US residents born in South Asia, Latin America, and the US, joined to spatial information in a GIS. I find that the home built environment is the most consistently influential factor in explaining the lower auto use of both recent and settled Latin American immigrants. Indian immigrants use autos less than would be expected given their home and work neighborhoods. There is little evidence that either ethnic enclaves, or cultural differences, play a role in lower auto use by immigrants. These results suggest there may be a role for neighborhood built environment policies in delaying immigrant assimilation to auto use in the US.

Keywords

Immigration Auto use Sustainability Built environment Location choice 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of City and Regional PlanningUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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