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167262-1 Report Abstract

Microsimulation of Household and Firm Behaviors: Coupled Models of Land Use and Travel Demand in Austin, Texas

Saurabh Kumar and Kara M. Kockelman, University of Texas at Austin, December 2007, 147 pp. (167262-1)

Households and firms are key drivers of urban growth, yet models for forecasting travel demand often ignore their dynamic evolution and several key decision processes. An understanding of household and firm behavior over time is critical in anticipating urban futures and addressing transportation, land use and other concerns. Birth and death, migration and location choice are defining events in a household’s and firm’s life cycle, and a study of household and firm evolution requires the estimation and application of models for each of these. Such an exercise is hindered primarily by a lack of quality micro-data. This study develops a basic framework for modeling household and firm demographics using microsimulation. Year 2005 zonal household population and employment point data for the Austin, Texas region, coupled with various, more aggregate data sets, are used to simulate household and firm evolution over time and space.

To ensure a jobs-worker balance, the model may well merit greater synchronization of the population and firm synthesis models. The simulations also suggest a clear shift of firms and households towards more central zones, in part because of the cross-sectional nature of the data sets used to calibrate the location choice models and the lack of density restrictions or other reflections of land-availability constraints on new development.  Essentially, households and firms exhibit a strong centralizing tendency, that Austin’s land market simply cannot allow, due to space and other constraints on new building.  Explicit expressions of such constraints should prove helpful in future implementations of this work.
Keywords:  Microsimulation, Firm Behaviors, Land Use, Travel Demand, Austin, Texas

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 1.1 MB)