Increasing commute distances often lead to increased auto-dependency and is a major problem in many developed as well as developing countries. While in developed countries, the propensity to commute long distances generally originates from the preference to work in the core of the city and live in the suburb or periphery, in developing countries, the trend is often quite the opposite. For example, in Bangladesh, people generally have a strong preference to live at the heart of the major cities even if they work at the peripheral areas of the city, in another city or in a rural area. Further, it is also not uncommon to maintain split-families where the earning member of the family lives near the workplace while the rest of the family is based in a big city (subject to affordability). These phenomena lead to substantial increase in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and add burden to the transport infrastructure. The focus of the research is to explore the key factors that induce middle and upper-middle class commuters in Bangladesh to live away from their workplace and/or maintain split-families. A case study is conducted using Stated Preference (SP) surveys conducted among the faculty members of two universities: one located at the periphery of the capital city and the other quite far away. Discrete Choice Models are developed using the collected data. Results reveal that albeit some differences, for both cases, the choices are strongly driven by quality of the education institutes and the house rent. Factors like gender, income and car-ownership, which traditionally play a strong role in the context of developed countries, are found to be of less significance. The models, though estimated with limited data, provide useful insights about the factors that drive residential location choices in the context of a developing country and can help in formulating policies for encouraging people to live closer to their workplaces and thereby reduce commuter VMT.
Choudhury, C.F. & Ayaz, S.B. (2015), Why live far? — Insights from modeling residential location choice in Bangladesh. Journal of Transport Geography, 48, pp 1-9.