Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Geography and Anthropology

First Advisor

Gregory Veeck


Since the 1950s, the service sector of the U.S. economy has experienced remarkable growth. Significantly, new jobs in business and professional services and in similar information-processing occupations required new workplaces. Consequently, thousands of office complexes were built in American cities. Displaying a clean break with the past trend, the majority of the new office complexes were constructed in suburban locations, outside the CBDs of most major cities. The purpose of this research is to investigate the relationships between office complexes and urban labor markets/urban spatial structure. The scope of the empirical work is confined to office suburbanization in Houston, Texas PMSA (Harris County) and covers the period from 1970 to 1990. The research utilizes census-tract level socioeconomic data from the U.S. Census of Population and Housing (1970, 1980, and 1990) and data on individual office buildings from Black's Office Guide to examine, by means of statistical modeling, the relationships between the location of the intrametropolitan workforce and the location of office space. Three sets of spatial regression models are formulated in this research: (A) the amount of office space as a function of workforce characteristics; (B) the length of commute as a function of workforce characteristics; and (C) the change in housing values as a function of changes in office stock. Results of statistical modeling indicate that in Houston, during the period from 1970 to 1990, suburbanizing office complexes targeted the residential areas of white-collar office workers. As a result of this trend, residential areas with high concentrations of white-collar office workers are found to be characterized now with shorter commutes to work. Finally, positive effects of office space on housing values, particularly in the 1980s, were detected. Results of the study suggest that suburbanization of office complexes leads to polarization of urban space and creates dangerous imbalances in the urban spatial structure. Examples of such imbalances include job-housing mismatch and difficulties associated with access to suburban jobs for low-income workers. Therefore, successful urban planning and urban social policies must necessarily be geographically-informed.