An Empirical Study of Urban/Suburban Residential Location Choice in the Seattle Metropolitan Area
Shin, Eun Jin
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The factors that affect the urban/suburban residential location choice has long been of interest to the field of urban planning as it explains the distribution of both population and income in metropolitan areas. This study provides empirical evidence on whether the urban-centralization trends of population exist and how household income and urban opportunities are associated with urban/suburban locational choice in the Seattle metropolitan area in order to draw policy implications for urban revitalization. Descriptive statistics show that the net-flow of urban population is negative during the study period. Two sets of binomial logistic models are employed based on origins in order to understand the mechanisms underlying urban/suburban residential location choice. The role of income in explaining urban/suburban residential location choice becomes modest after controlling for other independent variables. Only high-income households are more likely to choose an urban-to-urban move over urban-to-suburban move as compared to middle-income households. In addition, increases in job and retail/services opportunities, as well as the median built-year of neighborhood structure, are positively all related to the log odds of choosing urban over suburban areas regardless of origins. Throughout the study, the classification of urban versus suburban neighborhood is based on the residents' perceptions of their neighborhood type as opposed to census criteria. Findings suggest that redistribution of population and income back to urban areas does not exist within the Seattle metropolitan area. Policies and programs creating more employment opportunities as well as higher retail/service land use in urban areas will help to increase the proportion of the urban population in the Seattle metropolitan area. Furthermore, solutions for urban revitalization should include strategies to provide newer housing in better condition in urban areas, which will keep both urban and suburban inhabitants from moving to the suburbs for better housing conditions.
- Urban planning