Cars Not Geography: Job Accessibility and Reconceptualizing Spatial Mismatch in Detroit
Author Joe Grengs
Transportation scholars are challenging traditional formulations of the spatial mismatch hypothesis because it disregards the considerable difference between travel modes. This case study of the Detroit metropolitan region uses 2000 census data and a gravity-based model of transportation accessibility to test differences in jobs access among places and people, and provides support for recent calls for reconceptualizing spatial mismatch. It shows that even though Detroit experiences the greatest distance between blacks and jobs of any region in the country, most central-city neighborhoods offer an advantage in accessibility to jobs compared to most other places in the metropolitan region - as long as a resident has a car. Policies aimed at helping carless people gain access to automobiles may be an effective means of improving the employment outcomes of inner-city residents.