ESSAYS ON CHOICE WITH SPATIAL HETEROGENEITY
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Consumers make choices based on an array of product attributes or consumer-specific characteristics. This dissertation includes three separate essays that examine consumer choice as a function of different consumer-specific characteristics which drive their choices. These attributes can be locations in a policy space or within an urban area, which drive transportation demand examined in the second and third essays. In the first essay, I detail a model of United States presidential elections where voters' choices for president are proxied by those of a set of electoral representatives. The aggregation of voter preferences at the state level results in rational candidates targeting the median voters of certain states. State-level campaign advertising has significant influence in voter decisions. I explore these two features in a model where candidates compete via spatial policy location and non-policy resource allocation. The resulting analysis demonstrates that the better-funded candidate always wins when pure strategy equilibria exist and that non-policy resource competition allows for divergence in policy platforms in equilibrium. In the second essay, I examine transportation decision-making of commuters in Portland, OR. I examine transportation mode choices made simultaneously with the choice of whether to make multiple stops (termed travel complexity). I account for commuters' unobserved preferences for particular transportation modes. Using travel behavior data collected by the Oregon Department of Transportation, I estimate the model using an error components logit (ECL) specification and find that not allowing for unobserved commuter preferences for particular transportation modes underestimates the value of travel time (VOT) and that, when making more complex trips, commuters who bicycle stick to bicycling. In the third essay, I examine commuters' additional willingness to pay to avoid spending time in traffic congestion. Previous research has found that commuters are willing to pay 30-50% more to drive a minute less in congestion than to drive a minute less in free-flow traffic. Using an ECL specification, I find that when taking into account commuters' flexible work schedules, the estimated congestion premium rises to 80\% that of free-flow VOT, but is 0% for commuters with flex-time. This implies that increasing the proportion of commuters with flexible work schedules will increase the number of peak-period drivers.