Is Population Decentralization Lengthening Commuting Distances?

by Peter A. Morrison, Allan Abrahamse


Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.8 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.


Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price Price
Add to Cart Paperback31 pages $20.00 $16.00 20% Web Discount

Examines how people's home-to-work commuting distances change when they migrate from metropolitan to nonmetropolitan areas. Findings relate to two contrasting suppositions about how workers are becoming repositioned in relation to their jobs as the U.S. population decentralizes: (1) when metropolitan residents disperse beyond existing metropolitan boundaries, their jobs and homes become more separated, lengthening the average distance to work; and (2) nonmetropolitan communities enable workers to live closer to their jobs in these satellite employment centers, thereby shortening the average distance to work. The empirical analysis of a small but well-defined sample of intercounty migrants furnishes suggestive evidence that the second image fits more closely with the realities of how metropolitan-to-nonmetropolitan migrants typically position themselves in relation to their jobs. There is no indication that such migration is lengthening the aggregate distance that workers commute. The assumption that migration out of metropolitan areas is yielding a more energy-intensive configuration of residences and job locations is not upheld.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.