Does Rapid Transit and Light Rail Infrastructure Improve Labor Market Outcomes?

52 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2020 Last revised: 1 Dec 2020

See all articles by Maysen Yen

Maysen Yen

University of California, Irvine

Date Written: May 7, 2020


Public transit has often been proposed as a solution to the spatial mismatch hypothesis but the link between public transit accessibility and employment has not been firmly established in the literature. Los Angeles provides an interesting case study – as the city has transformed from zero rail infrastructure before the 1990s to a network of 103 Metro stations in 2016 consisting of subway, light rail, and bus rapid transit servicing diverse neighborhoods. I use panel data on tracts, treating route placement as endogenous, which is then instrumented by the distance from the centroid of each tract in LA to a hypothetical Metro route. Overall, I find proximity to Metro stations increases labor force participation and employment for residents, which is robust to using both a binary and continuous measure of distance. Additionally, I find evidence that increased job density in neighborhoods near new transit stations is contributing to the employment increase.

Keywords: Public Transit, Transportation, Employment, Spatial Mismatch, Metro, Los Angeles, Light Rail

JEL Classification: J08, J21, R40

Suggested Citation

Yen, Maysen, Does Rapid Transit and Light Rail Infrastructure Improve Labor Market Outcomes? (May 7, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Maysen Yen (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine ( email )

P.O. Box 19556
Science Library Serials
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States

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