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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Influence of Expected Suburbanization on Urban Form and the Journey to Work


Standard urban models assume residents never think about their next job. More likely, the individual value of a given home and the choice of commute length are based not only on the current job site, but also on the expectation of where future jobs will be and the likelihood of both job separations and residential moves. The first factor lessens the value of access to the present job, while the second determines the opportunity cost of moving. Both sets of factors lead to flatter rent gradients and more sprawl than predicted by standard theories. The analysis further suggests that relatively stable jobs are likely associated with relatively shorter commutes. Past studies of the regional balance of jobs and housing, or 'wasteful' commuting, of differences in the length of commute by gender, and of spatial tests for discrimination in housing and local labor markets have neglected these considerations, and may yield biased results as a consequence.

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