The Poverty of the Carless: Toward Universal Auto Access

David King, Michael J. Smart, Michael Manville

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We document the falling socioeconomic status of American households without private vehicles and the continuing financial burden that cars present for low-income households that own them. We tie both these trends to the auto-orientation of America’s built environment, which forces people to either spend heavily on cars or risk being locked out of the economy. We first show that vehicle access remains difficult for low-income households and vehicle operating costs remain high and volatile. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, Survey of Consumer Finances, and Census Public Use Microdata, we then show that in the last fifty years households without vehicles have lost income, both in absolute terms and relative to households with vehicles. We link these trends to the built environment by examining the fortunes of carless households in New York City, and particularly in Manhattan. Most of New York’s built environment did not change to accommodate cars, and in New York the fortunes of the carless did not fall. Our results suggest that planners should see vehicles, in most of the United States, as essential infrastructure, and work to close gaps in vehicle access.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Planning Education and Research
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Fingerprint

poverty
low income
private household
income
operating costs
automobile
trend
household income
social status
finance
census
infrastructure
economy
present
socioeconomic status
vehicle
cost
household
built environment

Keywords

  • income inequality
  • transportation
  • transportation poverty
  • urban form
  • urban history

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Urban Studies

Cite this

The Poverty of the Carless : Toward Universal Auto Access. / King, David; Smart, Michael J.; Manville, Michael.

In: Journal of Planning Education and Research, 01.01.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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