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Do Compact, Accessible, and Walkable Communities Promote Gender Equality? 

  • Author(s): Houston, Douglas, PhD
  • Lo, Ashley (Wan-Tzu)
  • et al.
Abstract

Directing growth towards denser communities with mixed-use, accessible, and walkable neighborhood design has become an important strategy for promoting sustainability, but few studies have examined whether compact development strategies could help reduce within-household gender disparities in spatial behavior by increasing accessibility. We analyze spatial behavior of heterosexual married couples in Southern California based on the 2012 California Household Travel Survey and find that households living in areas with greater regional accessibility and neighborhood walkability have smaller, more centered, and more compact activity spaces overall compared to households in less compact areas, and that married pairs living in more accessible areas have greater equality in the size and centeredness of their activity spaces. Results support our hypothesis that compact development provides married couples greater flexibility in how they divide household out-of-home activities by making destinations more convenient. Future research and planning efforts should carefully consider which aspects of compact, accessible development are most effective for a given local context.

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