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Title: An exploration of the determinants and health impacts of active commuting
Author: Martin, Adam
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2015
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Encouraging more walking or cycling amongst commuters in the United Kingdom could help reduce physical inactivity and contribute various health, environmental and other economic benefits. Existing empirical studies of the determinants and impact of active commuting are limited however, since they typically use cross-sectional, observational study designs or focus on small scale behavioural interventions. This thesis explored how the impact of larger scale population-level changes in the design of urban built environments and other transport policies could be assessed using theories and techniques often employed in health economics. There are three main sections. First, a literature review which found few studies of the health impact of changes to the built environment that had used randomisation or advanced econometric techniques (e.g. instrumental variables). This included an assessment of whether the chosen methodological approach critically affected the results obtained and the development of a guide to aid policy makers in distinguishing between, and assessing the quality of, observational studies that used different analytical techniques. Second, an empirical analysis of twenty-one waves of the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) which included an exploration of the determinants of active commuting including life events (e.g. moving home and changing job) and studies of the impact on body mass index and subjective wellbeing of switching commute mode from car travel to walking, cycling or public transport. Third, an exploration of the potential impact of financial incentives to promote active travel. This included an empirical review of intervention studies as well as a theoretical element, including development of a simple analytical framework and review of behavioural economic concepts. Whilst the identified health improvements could support the case for investment in policies that promote active commuting, the thesis recommended that more robust evaluation of population-level policies is required so that scarce resources can be targeted more effectively.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available