Accommodating flexible spatial and social dependency structures in discrete choice models of activity-based travel demand modeling
Spatial and social dependence shape human activity-travel pattern decisions and their antecedent choices. Although the transportation literature has long recognized the importance of considering spatial and social dependencies in modeling individuals’ choice behavior, there has been less research on techniques to accommodate these dependencies in discrete choice models, mainly because of the modeling complexities introduced by such interdependencies. The main goal of this dissertation, therefore, is to propose new modeling approaches for accommodating flexible spatial and social dependency structures in discrete choice models within the broader context of activity-based travel demand modeling. The primary objectives of this dissertation research are three-fold. The first objective is to develop a discrete choice modeling methodology that explicitly incorporates spatial dependency (or correlation) across location choice alternatives (whether the choice alternatives are contiguous or non-contiguous). This is achieved by incorporating flexible spatial correlations and patterns using a closed-form Generalized Extreme Value (GEV) structure. The second objective is to propose new approaches to accommodate spatial dependency (or correlation) across observational units for different aspatial discrete choice models, including binary choice and ordered-response choice models. This is achieved by adopting different copula-based methodologies, which offer flexible dependency structures to test for different forms of dependencies. Further, simple and practical approaches are proposed, obviating the need for any kind of simulation machinery and methods for estimation. Finally, the third objective is to formulate an enhanced methodology to capture the social dependency (or correlation) across observational units. In particular, a clustered copula-based approach is formulated to recognize the potential dependence due to cluster effects (such as family-related effects) in an ordered-response context. The proposed approaches are empirically applied in the context of both spatial and aspatial choice situations, including residential location and activity participation choices. In particular, the results show that ignoring spatial and social dependencies, when present, can lead to inconsistent and inefficient parameter estimates that, in turn, can result in misinformed policy actions and recommendations. The approaches proposed in this research are simple, flexible and easy-to-implement, applicable to data sets of any size, do not require any simulation machinery, and do not impose any restrictive assumptions on the dependency structure.