Date of Award

Winter 2007

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Administration and Urban Policy

Committee Director

Berhanu Mengistu

Committee Member

John R. Lombard

Committee Member

Stacey B. Plichta

Committee Member

Nancy A. Bagranoff

Committee Member

John C. Morris


The purpose of this study is to provide a detailed examination and analysis of neighborhood satisfaction determinants among residents living within defended and defensible gated communities in the United States. The study considers whether there are significant differences in the determinants at national or regional levels and whether there are significant differences within the components of individual household characteristics, neighborhood quality characteristics, or both.

The theoretical framework and model for neighborhood satisfaction used with this study is based on a modified model of Lu's work on neighborhood satisfaction (1999, pp. 78-79) and residential mobility (1996) that were based on Speare's (1974) earlier work on residential mobility decision-making. Additionally, the statistical construct and specific regression technique suggested by Lu (1999) is used and extended during the data analysis process.

This research presents a quantitative analysis of multi-year data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's National (2005) and Metropolitan (2002 and 2004) American Housing Surveys. The analysis investigates bivariate and multivariate relationships between the independent variables of internal (individual and household) characteristics and external (dwelling and neighborhood/area) characteristics constrained by defensible and defended gated communities using neighborhood satisfaction as the dependent variable.

This study addresses a gap in the body of literature and research regarding the categorization of gated communities and the determinants of neighborhood satisfaction. Prior research efforts have not considered this gated community classification in analytical depth. Past works in this narrowed area have been descriptive efforts.

The conclusions reached by this effort have applicability to theory, analysis, and practice. The study suggests an alteration to the modeling component of neighborhood satisfaction determinants. The analysis uses a more precise technique than previous studies in the investigation of ordinal-level data and the method may be used as a reference or springboard for future efforts. The research showed the significance of the neighborhood satisfaction determinants of housing satisfaction and personal safety factors, but of the statistical non-significance of the defended and defensible dichotomy in the full multivariate context. The research findings will be useful to policy makers, redevelopment authorities, new construction developers, and other real estate interests. The decision process for financial investments in developing defended or defensible communities have the potential to be based on this work.