Impact of Rail Access on Employment

The Role of Public Rail Transit in Alleviating Spatial Mismatch (Link)

Job Market Paper

The latter half of the twentieth century was accompanied by widespread spatial decentralization of residence and employment across many urban areas of the United States. As low-skilled and often minority workers remained concentrated in central cities, it became difficult for these individuals to access an increasing proportion of jobs. I investigate the role of public, rail transit in mitigating the negative economic consequences arising from the spatial mismatch between residential and employment location. Using a novel, person level panel data set, I exploit changes in rail access resulting from the large number of stations opened between 1968--2017 to compare changes in outcomes for workers located near new stations relative to those that remained more distant. I find that the introduction of a rail station within 2 miles of a household leads to a 2.35 percentage point increase in the probability of employment and $3,663 increase in labor income among household heads. The effects appear immediately following a station's opening, but continue to grow in magnitude until stabilizing at an elevated level four years afterward. The results provide evidence that rail infrastructure development can be an effective policy tool in improving the economic outcomes of urban residents.

Change in Public Transit Usage: Portland 1970-2010

Rail Transit Access and Commuting: Evidence From 30 U.S. Metropolitan Areas (Link)

Revise and Resubmit: Journal of Urban Economics

I study the impacts of rail transit expansions in 30 U.S. metropolitan areas by comparing changes in commuting patterns for neighborhoods located near newly opened stations to similar neighborhoods that remained more distant. The effects depend heavily on socioeconomic status with below-median poverty neighborhoods experiencing a meaningful increase (1.97 percentage points) in the proportion of public transit commuters. Higher poverty neighborhoods see no change in public transit commuting as increases in rail usage are completely offset by reductions in bus usage. Regardless of poverty rate, these changes in commute mode are not accompanied by commute time savings.

Research in Progress

U.S. Urban Rail Development and Real Estate Values

With Jacob Gellman

Prior research documents a positive causal relationship of public rail transportation infrastructure on real estate values. However, the extent of the effect appears to differ considerably both within and across cities based on location, system, and property characteristics. We explore the impacts of rail infrastructure on commercial and residential property values using a comprehensive data set that incorporates all urban rail development throughout the U.S. from 2003 to 2017 to investigate the differential effects of rail development on real estate values.

Does Public Transit Access Affect The Spatial Distribution of Crime?

With Ryan Sherrard

Opponents of local public transportation development often argue that improved access will result in increases to criminal activity near new stations. We investigate this possibility using incident level data across multiple cities and decades to conduct an extensive analysis of the impacts of public rail access on crime. The results will provide empirical evidence regarding the likelihood of changes in the spatial distribution of criminal activity resulting from public transit policy.

Research Assistance

Active Black Plague Outbreaks

Assisted Javier A. Birchenall in his research of the demographic and economic consequences of the Black Death Pandemic.

Assisted Heather Royer in assessing the neo-natal health impacts of low levels of water contamination across California.

Assisted Genevieve Pham-Kanter in exploring the the impact of disclosing payments from pharmaceutical companies to prescribing physicians on patient trust.