Racial Differences in Transportation Access to Employment in Chicago and Los Angeles, 1980 and 1990

5 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2013

See all articles by Chanjin Chung

Chanjin Chung

Cornell University - Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

Samuel Myers

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs

Lisa Saunders

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Date Written: May 1, 2001

Abstract

This article examines racial differences in travel time to work. We use 1980 and 1990 Census Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS) for Chicago and Los Angeles to estimate the relation of personal and household characteristics to commute time. Between 1980 and 1990, mean commute times increased more for whites than for blacks in both cities, narrowing the racial gap between those two groups. The mean commute times remained similar for Hispanics and whites. Once we conducted a regression analysis and adjusted for selection bias, however, these mean commute time results were not supported. Sample mean comparisons and unadjusted regressions, it appears, underestimate racial differences and overestimate their convergence over time.

Several studies have shown that commute times of minorities and whites appear to be converging. Most analysts read these results as indicating a reduction in the impact of what has now come to be known as spatial mismatch, based on the pioneering work by John F. Kain (1968), or an improvement in other aspects of economic well-being for minorities. In our current study, indeed, the mean commute times support this view. However, we are concerned with one aspect of earlier commute-time studies. Most of these have excluded unemployed members of the work force, that is, job-seekers. Our study investigates how this selection bias may affect estimates of the role of race on commute time and of the convergence of minority and white commute times.

Keywords: Racial Differences

Suggested Citation

Chung, Chanjin and Myers, Samuel and Saunders, Lisa, Racial Differences in Transportation Access to Employment in Chicago and Los Angeles, 1980 and 1990 (May 1, 2001). American Economic Review, Vol. 91, No. 2, 2001. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2335086

Chanjin Chung

Cornell University - Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management ( email )

Ithaca, NY
United States

Samuel Myers (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs ( email )

301 19th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Lisa Saunders

University of Massachusetts Amherst ( email )

Department of Operations and Information Managemen
Amherst, MA 01003
United States

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