A Comprehensive Analysis of Built Environment Characteristics on Household Residential Choice and Auto Ownership Levels
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There has been an increasing interest in the land use-transportation connection in the past decade, motivated by the possibility that design policies associated with the built environment can be used to control, manage, and shape individual traveler behavior and aggregate travel demand. In this line of research and application pursuit, it is critical to understand whether the empirically observed association between the built environment and travel behavior-related variables is a true reflection of underlying causality or simply a spurious correlation attributable to the intervening relationship between the built environment and the characteristics of people who choose to live in particular built environments. In this research paper, we identify the research designs and methodologies that may be used to test the presence of true causality versus residential sorting-based spurious associations in the land-use transportation connection. The paper then develops a methodological formulation to control for residential sorting effects in the analysis of the effect of built environment attributes on travel behavior-related choices. The formulation is applied to comprehensively examine the impact of the built environment, transportation network attributes, and demographic characteristics on residential choice and car ownership decisions. The model formulation takes the form of a joint mixed multinomial logit-ordered response structure that (a) accommodates differential sensitivity to the built environment and transportation network variables due to both demographic and unobserved household attributes and (b) controls for the self-selection of individuals into neighborhoods based on car ownership preferences stemming from both demographic characteristics and unobserved household factors.The analysis in the paper represents, to our knowledge, the first instance of the formulation and application of a unified mixed multinomial logit-ordered response structure in the econometric literature. The empirical analysis in the paper is based on the residential choice and car ownership decisions of San Francisco Bay area residents.
At the time of publication C.R. Bhat was at the University of Texas at Austin; and J.Y. Guo was at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.