First Advisor

Kenneth J. Dueker

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies


Urban land use, Urban transportation, Population density



Physical Description

1 online resource (3, x, 172 p.)


Over the last several decades, low-density development and increasing levels of automobile dependence have become two of the major problems facing many urban areas. While they have significantly improved urbanites' mobility, freedom, and social contacts, and have expanded the ranges of economic activities, they have also brought numerous problems and externalities. Mitigating their negative externalities through appropriate policies necessitates the examination of their relationship and the effect of other urban elements. This research examines the relationship between density and automobile dependence and its underlying factors within cities. It examines the effects of quantifiable factors at three levels of analysis: regional, zonal, and household. Several hypotheses and sub-hypotheses concerning density and automobile dependence relationship and its underlying factors are examined. The research findings confirm most of the study hypotheses. With respect to the strength and direction of the relationship between population density and automobile dependence measured in per capita VMT, most of the models constructed confirm the existence of a strong simultaneous relationship between density and VMT. Further, the analysis shows that other land use, economic, demographic, and transportation factors are also important determinants of density and VMT. At different levels of analysis, different factors are more important in explaining density and automobile dependence than others. Finally, the estimated optimal densities tend to be more than double the existing average densities of the study cases. The research conclusions suggest several theoretical and policy implications to guide future policies in land use and transportation.


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