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Accessibility and Economic Opportunity

  • O'Regan, Katherine M.
  • Quigley, John M.

Over thirty years ago, researchers raised the possibility of an important link between transportation, jobs and prospects for the poor. Decentralized employment, centralized minorities and poor, and inadequate transportation links in between were the context of the urban riots of the 1960's and posited as a causal factor by researchers. Given federal mandates for large-scale movement of welfare recipients into jobs, whether--and to what extent--access affects employment is still of national importance. This paper reviews developments in both the spatial context and our understanding of its importance over the past thirty years. Based primarily on Census data, we present evidence on changes in the spatial conditions facing the poor in terms of job access, transportation access, and commuting patterns. The trends suggest that some adjustments have alleviated while others heightened the mismatch. The overall picture of spatial isolation persists. We also review, rather selectively, literature on the importance of such access in determining employment outcomes. Our reading of the mixed findings is that we do have credible evidence that access matters, perhaps quite a bit, particularly for youth. Finally, we also review some of the transportation policy attempts to address this issue. From the policy perspective, however, the empirical evidence consistently shows that human capital and labor market conditions play a much more sizable role than does transportation per se.

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Paper provided by Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy in its series Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy, Working Paper Series with number qt94s780fq.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 1998
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:bphupl:qt94s780fq
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  1. David T. Ellwood, 1986. "The Spatial Mismatch Hypothesis: Are There Teenage Jobs Missing in the Ghetto?," NBER Chapters, in: The Black Youth Employment Crisis, pages 147-190 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Zax, Jeffrey S., 1990. "Race and commutes," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 336-348, November.
  3. O'Regan, Katherine M. & Quigley, John M., 1997. "Where Youth Live: Economic Effects of Urban Space on Employment Prospects," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt5680x1pm, University of California Transportation Center.
  4. Vrooman, John & Greenfield, Stuart, 1980. "Are blacks making it in the suburbs? Some new evidence on intrametropolitan spatial segmentation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 155-167, March.
  5. Leonard, Jonathan S., 1987. "The interaction of residential segregation and employment discrimination," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 323-346, May.
  6. Katherine M. O'Regan and John M. Quigley., 1996. "Spatial Effects upon Employment Outcomes: The Case of New Jersey Teenagers," Economics Working Papers 96-247, University of California at Berkeley.
  7. Ihlanfeldt, Keith R. & Sjoquist, David L., 1989. "The impact of job decentralization on the economic welfare of central city blacks," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 110-130, July.
  8. Zax, Jeffrey S., 1991. "Compensation for commutes in labor and housing markets," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 192-207, September.
  9. O'Regan, Katherine M. & Quigley, John M., 1995. "Teenage Employment and the Spatial Isolation of Minority and Poverty Households," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt6vg6961r, University of California Transportation Center.
  10. Joseph D. Mooney, 1969. "Housing Segregation, Negro Employment and Metropolitan Decentralization: An Alternative Perspective," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(2), pages 299-311.
  11. Price, Richard & Mills, Edwin, 1985. "Race and residence in earnings determination," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 1-18, January.
  12. Ihlanfeldt, Keith R & Sjoquist, David L, 1990. "Job Accessibility and Racial Differences in Youth Employment Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 267-76, March.
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