A methodology to evaluate equity in resource accessibility

Schmid, Joshua
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Other Contributors
Holguín-Veras, José
He, Xiaozheng (Sean)
Simons, Kenneth L.
Wang, Xiaokun (Cara)
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Civil engineering
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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States
This electronic version is a licensed copy owned by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Troy, NY. Copyright of original work retained by author.
Full Citation
Inequalities present in society have been of increased interest in recent years, particularly in the United States. One source of inequality is unequal access to important resources, such as shopping. Recent developments in shopping mean that the ways individuals obtain goods have changed significantly in the past decade, with little research into some of these new developments. Many of these developments concern online shopping, which has risen from a minor factor to a large portion of the retail economy in the past two decades. The COVID-19 pandemic forced people to change how they shop, highlighted existing inequities in shopping access, and resulted in permanent changes to how families across the world obtain goods. Prior studies have indicated large discrepancies in accessibility to shopping, with focus on the relationship between economic status and accessibility. Other studies have touched on the lower accessibility to shopping in rural areas, particularly concerning the area of home delivery. However, large gaps in the literature exist, with online shopping being relatively understudied and the unique challenges to rural areas being understudied. This dissertation presents a methodology to access accessibility to online and in person shopping. Using a survey conducted by the author, econometric models are generated to determine the factors influencing accessibility to five types of online shopping and four types of in person shopping. These models are then applied to a case study of eastern Upstate New York, determining the accessibility to each type of shopping in every ZIP Code in the study area and generating composite accessibility scores. These accessibility scores indicate a wide variation in both in person and online shopping accessibility across the study area, with urban and high-income areas more likely to have high accessibility to shopping than low-income and rural areas. Policies to remedy the inequities evidenced by the case study are then presented, with discussion of how they may be implemented.
August 2022
School of Engineering
Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
Rensselaer Theses and Dissertations Online Collection
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