The Key to Escaping Poverty: Transportation

A recent study that connected place to opportunity also includes findings about the factor most likely to influence economic success: access to transportation.

1 minute read

May 11, 2015, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


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Mikayla Bouchard follows up on recent coverage of a Harvard study by focusing on the study's findings that one factor in particular determines whether people can build a better life: "A lack of reliable and efficient transportation is often a huge barrier." Bouchard puts it another way: "The longer an average commute in a given county, the worse the chances of low-income families there moving up the ladder."

In fact, the study finds that transportation is more influential than other factors that many would assume have the most impact on economic mobility: "The relationship between transportation and social mobility is stronger than that between mobility and several other factors, like crime, elementary-school test scores or the percentage of two-parent families in a community…"

To supplement the article's point, Bouchard also cites research from New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation, which "compared neighborhoods by accessibility to mass transit and the number of jobs within an hour’s commute. It found that residents of the areas least well served by mass transit relied on personal vehicles. Areas in the middle third — those with some, but insufficient, access to transportation — had the highest rates of unemployment and the lowest incomes, the study found."

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