Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Urban Studies


Planning and Urban Studies

Major Professor

Dr. Bethany Stich

Second Advisor

Dr. Guang Tian

Third Advisor

Dr. Marc Bonis


Post-industrial cities in the US have experienced social and economic transitions, mostly in declining downtown neighborhoods. This process, known as gentrification, typically involves revitalization that reverses the decline and disinvestment in inner-city neighborhoods. The industrial shift increased the demand for housing near downtown. The employment of college-educated and high-skill workers has been centralized, while low-skilled jobs continue to decline downtown. While the impacts of gentrification on housing and residential displacement is frequently investigated, little attention has been given to its impact on travel behavior change and economic transition, which is the focus of this research. Change in travel behavior is shown to be primarily related to distance to the workplace, spatial context, and individual attitude. Gentrification inherently encompasses all three attributes: contextual change for in-movers and out-movers is associated with residential relocation and potential employment change. The upgrading neighborhoods tend to witness economic restructuring and higher growth rates in the knowledge-based economy, local retail establishments, and other services that did not previously capture those markets.

The purpose of this dissertation is to shed light on the change in job and commuting patterns in gentrified neighborhoods located within the 98 most populated U.S. MSAs between 2000 and 2019 by using a longitudinal quasi-experimental research design. This study adopts a quantitative definition to select the potentially gentrifying and gentrified tracts with minor changes. The study uses two sets of t-tests to compare first between changes in job and travel to work in gentrified and non-gentrified tracts. Second, to detect whether a gentrified tract witnessed statistically significant differences regarding the travel and job variables at the start and end of the period. The data analysis continues with a series of two-way ANOVA to further explore the combined effect of gentrification and other control variables on job and travel behavior. This result shows that gentrification comes along with densification, racial turnover, less unemployment, more professionalism, and less service jobs. While residents of gentrified neighborhoods had higher average vehicle ownership, their overall auto trip decreased at a sharper rate. Nonetheless, the overall sustainable travel had risen in gentrified neighborhoods. This study is an important scholarly work because it adds to the field of research pertaining to housing demand and transportation. Densification can potentially bring jobs and daily destinations closer. Densification in a combination with TOD and/ or mixed-use development can strongly reduce driving and promote sustainable transportation.


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