Tempest in a teapot: The exaggerated problem of transport-related residential self-selection as a source of error in empirical studies

Petter Naess


While numerous studies have investigated influences of built environment characteristics on travel behavior, many scholars are concerned about the confounding effect of residential self-selection. This paper argues that the existence of transport-attitude-based residential self-selection hardly represents any threat to the validity of the basic knowledge on how residential location within urban contexts influences travel behavior. The causal mechanisms by which residential location influences travel behavior exist regardless of whether or not transport-related residential self-selection occurs. Moreover, the cases presented in this paper suggest that residential self-selection based on attitudes to travel is unlikely to represent any great source of error for parameter estimates of the effects of residential location variables on travel behavior as long as “traditional” demographic and socioeconomic variables have already been accounted for. The doubts raised by certain scholars about the implications of attitude-based residential self-selection for the validity of the knowledge base of land use and transportation policies thus appear to be not very well-founded.


Self-selection; Causality; Land Use; Travel

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5198/jtlu.v7i3.491

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