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Women's Changing Commutes: The Work Trips of Single Mothers in the New York Region, 2000–2010

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Single mothers are an important and growing segment of the U.S. workforce. As primary breadwinners and caregivers, they shoulder a 'double burden' that often constrains their access to job opportunities and reinforces their commuting challenges. In the urban areas where most single mothers live, ongoing transformations of the built environment associated with gentrification and uneven transit investment may exacerbate their commuting challenges. We examine the impacts of built environment characteristics on single mothers' reliance on various transportation modes for their commuting trips in the New York metropolitan region. Our analysis focuses on changes in mode use during the 2000s, a period of rapid change in the region's built environment. Using microdata from the 2000 and 2008–2012 U.S. Census PUMS, we analyse geographic and racial/ethnic inequalities in single mothers' mode choices and the socioeconomic and contextual factors that influence transit dependence. Our results show that transit use is increasing both among single and married mothers, as working mothers shift away from commuting by car. At the same time, single mothers increasingly live in suburban and peripheral areas where access to transit is limited. Although only a relatively small percentage of suburban single mothers commute via transit, that percentage increased from 2000 to 2010. Transit dependence is especially high among minority single mothers and that disparity persists after controlling residential location, transit access, hourly earnings and sociodemographic characteristics.
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Keywords: COMMUTING; MODE CHOICE; NEW YORK; PUBLIC TRANSIT; RACE; SINGLE MOTHERS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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