May 13, 2013

Do rich households live farther away from their workplaces?

One of the classic predictions of urban economic theory is that high-income and low-income households choose different residential locations and therefore, conditional on workplace location, have different commuting patterns. According to theory, the effect of household income on commuting distance may be positive or negative.
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Empirical tests of this effect are not standard, due to reverse causation and lack of good control variables. To address reverse causation, estimates of household income on commuting distance are derived using changes in distance through residential moves keeping workplace location constant. Our results show that the (long-run) income elasticity of distance is non-negative and around 0.14 for dual wage-earners.


Eva Gutierrez Puigarnau
Jos N. van Ommeren (VU)

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