Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Dr. G.J. Papageorgiou


The purpose of this study is to develop and test a model of the intraurban residential mobility behaviour of individual households. Intraurban residential mobility is the relocation of households from one residence to another within an urban area.

The model is based on a number of theoretical concepts developed in previous studies of household mobility behaviour. Three concepts are particularly important: place utility, aspirations, and Jocational stress. Unlike earlier studies, however, these concepts are defined within a comprehensive general model of evaluation and choice. The framework adopted is that provided by the theory of consumer behaviour. Developing the mobility model within this framework permits explicit definition of concepts and clear specification of interrelationships.

The basic idea of the model is that mobility is the result of perceived differences between what a household has and what a household believes it could have elsewhere. The household, through its preferences, is able to evaluate and assign relative values to residences. The relative value attached to a particular residence is defined as place utility. Particularly important is the relative value attached to a household's present residence, defined as experienced place utility, and the relative value attached to the best residence the household believes is attainable elsewhere, defined as aspiration place utility. The difference between these values is defined as residential stress and constitutes the basic decision variable. When residential stress exceeds a certain stress threshold, the household decides to seek a new residence. This decision is followed by a search process in which aspiration place utility functions as a goal.

Of particular importance in this conceptualization is the idea that aspirations are related to what is attainable. Decisions are the result of both preferences and constraints. Specific constraints included in the model are income and needs. The latter are hypothesized to be related to life cycle stage. Changes in these constraints affect experienced and aspiration place utility, and hence, residential stress. Such changes, therefore, are of major significance in understanding mobility.

The model is empirically tested by examining a number of hypotheses derived from the theoretical analysis. Of major importance is the relationship between residential stress and mobility. A measure of residential stress is developed by using a method of conjoint analysis, termed tradeoff analysis, to construct utility scaled for individual households. These scales permit measures of experienced place utility, aspiration place utility and thus residential stress to be derived. Trade-off analysis is particularly appropriate in this context because 1) the type of choice required by respondents is consistent with the evaluation process of the model, 2) the method is designed for the analysis of complex stimuli, such as residences, composed of a number of individual attributes, and 3) the resulting utility scale has interval scale properties as required by the definition of residential stress. No previous study has attempted to measure these concepts at this scale.

Other hypotheses analyzed concern the relationships between income and aspiration place utility, income and experienced place utility, income changes and mobility, and life cycle stage and mobility. Mobility is defined both in terms of intended mobility behaviour and actual mobility behaviour. The results support the hypotheses in all cases, although to varying degrees. Overall, the empirical analysis provides considerable support for the theoretical model of mobility behaviour.

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