Understanding Location-Efficient Affordability Impacts

A recent study by professors Michael J. Smart and Nicholas J. Klein, “Complicating the Story of Location Affordability,” published in Housing Policy Debate, has stimulated considerable debate concerning the impacts of location on transportation affordability. It used a geocoded version of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to analyze how location factors affect housing and transportation expenditures for nearly 11,000 families between 2003 and 2013.

I respect these authors and their basic findings are consistent with previous studies. The found that total transportation expenditures, and transportation cost burdens (portion of household budgets devoted to transportation), are significantly lower for high-transit (H) compared with low-transit (L) locations, and these costs are extremely low for no-car (N) households, as illustrated in Figure 2 from their report, copied below.