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Center for Transportation Studies

Social Networks and ICT in Location Choice

Nebiyou Tilahun, David M. Levinson
August 2009
Report no. CTS 09-19

Abstract

Humans are social animals. We routinely interact with others learning about one another, about places, where to go and what places to avoid. Our activities are coordinated with others; sometimes because we explicitly seek to physically meet with those we know personally, other times the coordination is systemic because of norms and requirements of when those activities can take place (e.g. shopping when the shops are open etc.). With those personally known, interactions serve to exchange information, form social bonds and to create social support systems. With in the transportation realm, the social dimension comes into play in different ways. Two or more people who want to meet face to face have to select a meeting location and travel to that destination. People can also learn about short-term activity locations, or about residences and workplaces through others and make location decisions based upon them. These two areas of social contacts' influence in the location choice is the topic of this report. The report looks into how job search methods can impact home and work location patterns at the aggregate level. It also investigates the role job search methods and their outcomes play in subsequent relocation and residential location decisions at the individual level. A third element that will be considered is the relationship between home, work and activity locations for social meetings. The roles of social networks are explored in work finding, residential location choice, and choices of meeting locations.

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