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The car, immigrants and poverty: implications for immigrant earnings and job access


  • Clark, William A.V.
  • Wang, Wenfei Winnie


There is an implicit, and often explicit, policy view that cities need to provide increased public transit and access to that transportation for low-income and immigrant populations. In this perspective, only by providing increased access to public transit will society overcome the travel problems for these disadvantaged populations. Still, studies of mostly welfare populations have suggested that while public transportation is not unimportant, the car is a critical factor in moving from welfare to work. This paper extends that work by examining the job access behavior of both the low-income population in general and the foreign born population. How much do low-income households in the Los Angeles metropolitan area use public transportation in their journey to work? Are the foreign-born population public transportation users and can we determine the relative trade-off of public transit and car use by these households? We show that the car provides a real gain for low income and foreign born populations but that the gain is not without a potential wider problem – many poor and foreign born populations use the car without the full societal costs as large proportions of these populations use the car without carrying car insurance. We conclude that the gains may well be a mixed blessing if there are gains to these poor and foreign born populations but the costs are born, at least in part by society at large.

Suggested Citation

  • Clark, William A.V. & Wang, Wenfei Winnie, 2008. "The car, immigrants and poverty: implications for immigrant earnings and job access," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt6bh7m91q, University of California Transportation Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:uctcwp:qt6bh7m91q

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jacob L. Vigdor, 2008. "Is the Melting Pot Still Hot? Explaining the Resurgence of Immigrant Segregation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 478-497, August.
    2. Gurley, Tami & Bruce, Donald, 2005. "The effects of car access on employment outcomes for welfare recipients," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 250-272, September.
    3. Paul M. Ong, 2002. "Car ownership and welfare-to-work," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(2), pages 239-252.
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