A vehicle ownership and utilization choice model with endogenous residential density

David Brownstone, Hao (Audrey) Fang


This paper explores the impact of residential density on households’ vehicle type and usage choices using the 2001 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS). Attempts to quantify the effect of urban form on households’ vehicle choice and utilization often encounter the problem of sample selectivity. Household characteristics that are unobservable to the researchers might determine simultaneously where to live, what vehicles to choose, and how much to drive them. Unless this simultaneity is modeled, any relationship between residential density and vehicle choice may be biased. This paper extends the Bayesian multivariate ordered probit and tobit model developed in Fang (2008) to treat local residential density as endogenous. The model includes equations for vehicle ownership and usage in terms of number of cars, number of trucks (vans, sports utility vehicles, and pickup trucks), miles traveled by cars, and miles traveled by trucks. We carry out policy simulations that show that an increase in residential density has a negligible effect on car choice and utilization, but slightly reduces truck choice and utilization. The largest impact we find is a -.4 arc elasticity of truck fuel use with respect to density. We also perform an out-of-sample forecast using a holdout sample to test the robustness of the model.


vehicle type choice and utilization; endogenous density; ordered probit and tobit models.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5198/jtlu.v7i2.468

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