Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Matthew Taylor

Commitee Members

Katrina Mullan, Curtis Noonan


Mortality Rates, Transportation, Commute Mode, Public Health


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Econometrics | Health Economics


In recent years, policy makers have invested in public transportation and infrastructure to promote walking and cycling to work. There is also a large body of economic research that has found mortality rates increase during economic expansions. While there has been a number of epidemiological studies that investigate the impact of commuting mode choice on individual health outcomes, there is a lack of research on the aggregate health effects of alternative transportation methods, such as biking, walking, or using public transportation. This paper uses a fixed-effect model to investigate the impact of an increase in total employment on mortality rates, and whether the impact of increased employment on mortality varies between counties with differing commuting habits. Findings suggest an increase in total employment is associated with a decrease in all-cause, respiratory, and suicide mortality rates, and that this effect is stronger in counties with a lower than median proportion of commuters who drive to work, and in counties with a higher than median proportion of commuters who walk, bike, or take public transportation to work. The principal conclusions of this paper are two-fold: first, procyclical fluctuations in mortality rates found in previous studies do not come from higher total employment; and second, findings provide evidence that an increase in total employment decreases mortality rates more in communities which have a relatively high proportion of pedestrians, cyclists, and public transportation users, and a relatively low proportion of commuters dependent on personal automobiles.



© Copyright 2019 Samuel Earl Supplee-Niederman