Density and the Journey to Work

Growth and Change, Vol. 28, No. 2, pp. 147-172, 1997

35 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2007

See all articles by David Matthew Levinson

David Matthew Levinson

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ajay Kumar

Polytechnic University - Department of Chemical Engineering & Chemistry

Abstract

This paper evaluates the influence of residential density on commuting behavior across U.S. cities while controlling for available opportunities, the technology of transportation infrastructure, and individual socioeconomic and demographic characteristics. The measures of metropolitan and local density are addressed separately. We suggest that metropolitan residential density serves principally as a surrogate for city size. We argue that markets react to high interaction costs found in large cities by raising density rather than density being a cause of those high costs. Local residential density measures relative location (accessibility) within the metropolitan region as well as indexing the level of congestion. We conduct regressions to predict commuting time, speed, and distance by mode of travel on a cross-section of individuals nationally and city by city. The results indicate that residential density in the area around the tripmaker's home is an important factor: the higher the density the lower the speed and the shorter the distance. However, density's effect on travel time is ambiguous, speed and distance are off-setting effects on time. The paper suggests a threshold density at which the decrease in distance is overtaken by the congestion effects, resulting in a residential density between 7,500 and 10,000 persons per square mile (neither the highest nor lowest) with the shortest duration auto commutes.

Keywords: residential density, commuting behavior, US cities

Suggested Citation

Levinson, David Matthew and Kumar, Ajay, Density and the Journey to Work. Growth and Change, Vol. 28, No. 2, pp. 147-172, 1997. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1012093

David Matthew Levinson (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ajay Kumar

Polytechnic University - Department of Chemical Engineering & Chemistry ( email )

Six Metrotech Center
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States
718-260-3027 (Phone)
718-875-9646 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://chem.poly.edu/gross/ajayk.cfm

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