Consumption Access and Agglomeration: Evidence from Smartphone Data
We provide new theory and evidence on the role of consumption access in understanding the agglomeration of economic activity. We combine smartphone data that records user location every 5 minutes of the day with economic census data on the location of service-sector establishments to measure commuting and non-commuting trips within the Greater Tokyo metropolitan area. We show that non-commuting trips are frequent, more localized than commuting trips, strongly related to the availability of nontraded services, and occur along trip chains. Guided by these empirical findings, we develop a quantitative urban model that incorporates travel to work and travel to consume non-traded services. Using the structure of the model, we estimate theoretically-consistent measures of travel access, and show that consumption access makes a sizable contribution relative to workplace access in explaining the observed variation in residents and land prices across locations. Undertaking counterfactuals for changes in travel costs, we show that abstracting from consumption trips leads to a substantial underestimate of the welfare gains from a transport improvement (because of the undercounting of trips) and leads to a distorted picture of changes in travel patterns within the city (because of the different geography of commuting and non-commuting trips).
We are grateful to Boston University, Hitotsubashi University, and Princeton University for research support. Thanks to Milena Almagro, Victor Couture, Don Davis, Rebecca Diamond, Gilles Duranton, Anais Galdin, Cecile Gaubert, Caitlin Gorback, Joan Monras, Daniel Sturm, Nick Tsivanidis and seminar participants at AEA, Boston University, Dartmouth College, Nihon University, UC Berkeley and OSUS for helpful comments. We are grateful to Takeshi Fukasawa and Peter Deffebach for excellent research assistance. The usual disclaimer applies. “Konzatsu-Tokei (R)” Data refers to people flow data constructed from individual location information sent from mobile phones under users' consent, through applications provided by NTT DOCOMO, INC (including mapping application Docomo Chizu NAVI). Those data are processed collectively and statistically in order to conceal private information. Original location data is GPS data (latitude, longitude) sent every five minutes, and it does not include information to specify individual. The copyrights of all tables and figures presented in this document belong to ZENRIN DataCom CO., LTD. We also acknowledge Yaichi Aoshima at Hitotsubashi University for coordinating the project with ZENRIN DataCom Co,. LTD.; Heiwa Nakajima Foundation and The Kajima Foundation for their financial support; CSIS at the University of Tokyo for the joint research support (Project No. 954); the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism and the Miyagic Prefecture for the access to the travel survey data. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.