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Trends in regional jobs-housing proximity based on the minimum commute: The case of Belgium

Ismaïl Saadi, Kobe Boussauw, Jacques Teller and Mario Cools

Journal of Transport Geography, 2016, vol. 57, issue C, 171-183

Abstract: This paper investigates recent trends in the efficiency of the Belgian territorial structure in terms of commuting, at both the urban and regional scales. The minimum commute distance (MCD) and excess rate (ER) are used to compare observed home-to-work trip lengths with an “optimal” alternative commuter pattern in which the sum of the distance traveled by the working population is minimized. The MCD is a proximity indicator that measures the spatial match between the labor market and the housing stock, which can also be regarded as an interesting indicator of potential border effects on travel behavior, especially in the inter-regional context of Belgium. An MCD calculation requires an origin–destination (OD) matrix and a distance matrix. In our Belgian case study, we employ a recent OD matrix (2010) originating from Social Security (ONSS) data. We compare this matrix with data from the 2001 and 1991 census surveys. In addition to identifying trends in jobs-housing proximity, the article assesses methodological implications regarding geographical scale arising from the use of the two data sources mentioned. Based on the available data, it was found that average actual commuting distance increased over both periods studied, while in general, growth rates of MCD are considerably lower than growth rates of the actual commuting distance. This indicates that the spatial proximity between the labor market and the housing stock in Belgium has declined over all periods studied, although this loss of spatial proximity only explains a small part of the increase of the actual commuting distance. Furthermore, we found that the comparison of excess commuting metrics between regions and time periods sets high standards on data requirements, in which uniformity in data collection and spatial level of aggregation is of great importance. Finally, as the main contribution of this study, the results demonstrate, through a statistical approach, that municipalities that are experiencing a higher-than-average increase in MCD and ER in one of the considered time frames are more likely to continue to exhibit a higher-than-average increase in the subsequent period. Therefore, the observed trends appear to be consistent over time.

Keywords: Excess commuting; Jobs-housing balance; Border effects; Belgium (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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Handle: RePEc:eee:jotrge:v:57:y:2016:i:c:p:171-183