Has Mexico City’s shift to commercially produced housing increased car ownership and car use?


  • Erick Guerra University of Pennsylvania




Transportation, Land Use, Housing, Mexico City


Mexico City’s principal form of housing production has shifted over the past two decades. More households now purchase houses in large commercially built housing developments than move into informal settlements. Looking at 1500 households in two suburban municipalities from a 2007 metropolitan travel survey, this study is the first to quantify differences in car ownership and car use across households in informal settlements and commercial housing developments. Accounting for income, proxies for wealth, household composition, and geography, households living in commercial housing developments are likely to own more cars and drive more than similar households in neighboring informal settlements. A test for residential self-selection finds no unobserved correlations across households that own cars and live in commercial housing developments, suggesting that the included controls do a good job of capturing the effects of residential self-selection or that the effects are limited. Something about the local land use and design of new commercial housing developments appears conducive to car ownership and use. Differences between the two settlement types, including more parking, wider streets, less-connected street-grids, and less accessible transit stops in commercial settlements, likely play a role.

Author Biography

Erick Guerra, University of Pennsylvania

City and Regional Planning Assistant Professor


Bhat, Chandra R., and Jessica Y. Guo. 2007. “A Comprehensive Analysis of Built Environment Characteristics on Household Residential Choice and Auto Ownership Levels.” Transportation Research Part B: Methodological 41 (5) (June): 506–526. doi:10.1016/j.trb.2005.12.005.

Brownstone, David, and Thomas F. Golob. 2009. “The Impact of Residential Density on Vehicle Usage and Energy Consumption.” Journal of Urban Economics 65 (1) (January): 91–98. doi:10.1016/j.jue.2008.09.002.

Cervero, Robert. 2007. “Transit-Oriented Development’s Ridership Bonus: A Product of Self-Selection and Public Policies.” Environment and Planning A 39 (9): 2068–2085.

Cervero, Robert, and Kara Kockelman. 1997. “Travel Demand and the 3Ds: Density, Diversity, and Design.” Transportation Research Part D 2 (3): 199–219.

Chatman, Daniel. 2009. “Residential Choice, the Built Environment, and Nonwork Travel: Evidence Using New Data and Methods.” Environment and Planning A 41 (5): 1072–1089.

Dowall, D.E., and D. Wilk. 1989. “Population Growth, Land Development, and Housing in Mexico City”. Working Paper 502. Berkeley: University of California at Berkeley, Institute of Urban and Regional Development.

Guerra, Erick. 2013. “The New Suburbs: Evolving Travel Behavior, the Built Environment, and Subway Investments in Mexico City”. Berkeley, CA: University of California Berkeley. http://www.uctc.net/research/UCTC-DISS-2013-01.pdf.

Holtzclaw, John, Robert Clear, Hank Dittmar, David Goldstein, and Peter Haas. 2002. “Location Efficiency: Neighborhood and Socio-Economic Characteristics Determine Auto Ownership and Use - Studies in Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.” Transportation Planning & Technology 25 (1): 1–27. doi:Article.

INEGI. 1994. “Encuesta Origen - Destino de Los Viajes de Los Residentes de La Zona Metropolitana Del Valle de México 1994”. Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática.

———. 2007. “Encuesta Origen - Destino de Los Viajes de Los Residentes de La Zona Metropolitana Del Valle de México 2007”. Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática.

———. 2013. “Instituto Nacional de Estadística Y Geografía.” http://www.inegi.org.mx/.

Jia, Wenyu, and Martin Wachs. 1999. “Parking Requirements and Housing Affordability: Case Study of San Francisco.” Transportation Research Record 1685 (1) (January): 156–160. doi:10.3141/1685-20.

Manville, Michael, and Donald Shoup. 2005. “Parking, People, and Cities.” Journal of Urban Planning and Development 131 (4) (December): 233–245. doi:10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9488(2005)131:4(233).

Mokhtarian, Patricia L., and Xinyu Cao. 2008. “Examining the Impacts of Residential Self-Selection on Travel Behavior: A Focus on Methodologies.” Transportation Research Part B: Methodological 42 (3) (March): 204–228. doi:10.1016/j.trb.2007.07.006.

Monkkonen, Paavo. 2011a. “Housing Finance Reform and Increasing Socioeconomic Segregation in Mexico.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2427.2011.01085.x. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2427.2011.01085.x/abstract.

———. 2011b. “Do Mexican Cities Sprawl? Housing-Finance Reform and Changing Patterns of Urban Growth.” Urban Geography 32 (3) (April 1): 406–423. doi:10.2747/0272-3638.32.3.406.

———. 2011c. “The Housing Transition in Mexico Expanding Access to Housing Finance.” Urban Affairs Review 47 (5) (September 1): 672–695. doi:10.1177/1078087411400381.

Pardo, María del Carmen, and Ernesto Velasco Sánchez. 2006. El proceso de modernización en el Infonavit 2001-2006: estrategia, redes y liderazgo. México, D.F.: Colegio de México.

Peralta, Beatriz García, and Andreas Hofer. 2006. “Housing for the Working Class On the Periphery of Mexico City: A New Version of Gated Communities.” Social Justice 33 (3) (January 1): 129–141.

Pierce, Gregory, and Donald Shoup. 2013. “Getting the Prices Right.” Journal of the American Planning Association 79 (1): 67–81. doi:10.1080/01944363.2013.787307.

Shoup, Donald. 1999. “The Trouble with Minimum Parking Requirements.” Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice 33 (7-8): 549–574.

———. 2005. The High Cost of Free Parking. illustrated edition. American Planning Association.

United Nations Population Division. 2007. “World Urbanization Prospects: The 2007 Revision Population Database.” http://esa.un.org/unup/.

Weinberger, Rachel. 2012. “Death by a Thousand Curb-Cuts: Evidence on the Effect of Minimum Parking Requirements on the Choice to Drive.” Transport Policy 20: 93–102.

Wilson, R. W. 1995. “Suburban Parking Requirements: A Tacit Policy for Automobile Use and Sprawl.” Journal of the American Planning Association 61 (1).

Wooldridge, Jeffrey M. 2010. Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data. second edition. The MIT Press.




How to Cite

Guerra, E. (2015). Has Mexico City’s shift to commercially produced housing increased car ownership and car use?. Journal of Transport and Land Use, 8(2). https://doi.org/10.5198/jtlu.2015.714