Transportation and Work: Exploring Car Usage and Employment Outcomes in the LSAL Data

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The relationship between work and transportation has long been an important focus of transportation research. After the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, or “welfare reform,” attention turned to the role of transportation in job search and employment outcomes. While much of the work in this area focused on the welfare-to-work transition, there is a need to expand the analysis to other factors. Additionally, there is room to improve upon the measures used to examine this issue.

Data provided by the Longitudinal Study of Adult Learning provide an opportunity to conduct this type of research. Focusing on adults without a high school degree, the data set includes information on car ownership as well as employment history, literacy proficiency, and measures of social networks. This analysis addresses the role of car usage in employment outcomes such as employment status, average weekly wages, and weeks worked per year. It postulates that car ownership is an important employment tool for adults of low educational attainment in Portland, even in the context of other factors such as social networks/resources (social capital) and literacy skills (human capital).

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