Do Compact, Accessible, and Walkable Communities Promote Gender Equality?

Research Team: Doug Houston (lead) and Ashley (Wan-Tzu) Lo

UC Campus(es): UC Irvine

Problem Statement: Directing growth towards denser communities with mixed-use, accessible, and walkable neighborhood design has become an important strategy for promoting sustainability. Another bi-product and benefit of compact and accessible communities may be improving gender equality related to travel and activity patterns. Prior research shows segregated and dispersed land uses (i.e., suburban sprawl) can exacerbate gender disparities in daily household travel by separating the public and private realms, and can also constrain women to their immediate neighborhoods. In contrast, neighborhoods with pedestrian accessible mixes-use centers have been shown to help counter social isolation of women in suburbia. In addition, compact communities with denser land use and better transit service has been shown to reduce the disproportionate amount of chauffeuring women conduct on behalf of the household.

Project Description: This project analyzes the spatial behavior of heterosexual married couples in Southern California based on the 2012 California Household Travel Survey and finds that households living in areas with greater regional accessibility and neighborhood walkability have smaller, more centered, and more compact activity spaces overall compared to households in less compact areas, and that married pairs living in more accessible areas have greater equality in the size and centeredness of their activity spaces. Results support the hypothesis that compact development provides married couples greater flexibility in how they divide household out-of-home activities by making destinations more convenient.

Status: Completed

Budget: $49,149

Project Partner(s): California Air Resources Board, Caltrans, and the Southern California Association of Governments

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Policy Brief(s):
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