UBC Theses and Dissertations
Estimates of wasteful commuting in a sample of Canadian cities: a test of the monocentric model Pratt, Reagan A.
This thesis is based on an article by Bruce Hamilton published in the Journal of Political Economy 90(5) in 1982, titled "Wasteful Commuting". The analysis compares "optimal" and "observed” commuting behaviour in 23 Canadian cities in order to provide a test of the monocentric model's ability to predict commuting behaviour. Monocentric models are widely used in urban economics due to their simple structure but any model purporting to explain residential and job choice location should be able to explain observed commuting behaviour. In order to operationalize the model it was necessary to estimate employment and population density gradients for 23 Canadian cities using 1981 census data. Density gradients were estimated using a two-point estimation technique pioneered by Edwin Mills. The employment gradient estimates presented in Chapter 4 are the only existing Canadian estimates for a large set of cities. The density gradient estimates were used to calculate the minimum average commuting distance in each city. The minimum average commute was compared with observed commuting behaviour. Data on observed commuting was obtained from a 1977household survey. The results indicate that observed commuting is, on average, eight times the minimum necessitated by the separation of homes and jobs. Randomly assigning residents to homes and jobs explains observed commuting better than the monocentric model. Like Hamilton's results, the results of this thesis draw into question the validity of the basic monocentric model.
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