51st Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "New Challenges for European Regions and Urban Areas in a Globalised World", 30 August - 3 September 2011, Barcelona, Spain
This paper examines how a respondent's socioeconomic characteristics influence her willingness to support tax increases for spending on highway transportation infrastructure and four modes of public transportation (i.e., bus, light rail, commuter rail, and streetcar) in a fast growing urban area in the United States. We use and analyze detailed survey data at household level collected from a phone interview survey conducted in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area. We consider two types of response bias in the survey data. One is a systematic response bias which arises from protest zeros and respondents' tendency to under-report their willingness. The other is from the randomized response when a respondent answers survey questions by guessing because she does not have memory or knowledge of the questions and choices. Along with random utility model, these two response bias models are estimated and compared to each other. Empirical results show that an individual's attitudes towards paying higher taxes are affected by the individual's location, home ownership, and the level of educational attainment. It is found that respondents tend to grossly under-report their willingness to support higher taxes for investments on highways, bus, and commuter rail in the survey. Respondents also exhibit positive tendency to choose no increase in taxes in the survey about highway, bus, and commuter rail, although they actually prefer an increase over no increase. They have positive chance of randomly choosing slightly higher taxes for more investment on streetcar whatever her true preference is. We discuss policy implications of the empirical results.