Urban Form, Job Access, and Economic Mobility

Saturday, 15 February 2014
Grand Ballroom A (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Virginia Parks , University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Geographic accessibility to jobs is a key determinant of employment and economic mobility, especially for lower-skilled workers. A metropolitan region's urban form and transportation infrastructure produce its accessibility profile and reflect a set of social, economic, and environmental trade-offs that are rarely Pareto-optimal. That is, relative losers abound. In the U.S., sprawl reduces employment opportunities for lower-skill workers and women, dampens the economic mobility prospects of the poor, and generates negative environmental externalities. Density may counteract these effects, but only as part of a comprehensive jobs, housing, and transportation urban system.