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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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The SSRC Library collection is constantly growing and new research is added regularly. We welcome our users to submit a library item to help us grow our collection in response to your needs.


  • Individual Author: Blagg, Kristin; Chingos, Matthew; Corcoran, Sean P.; Cordes, Sarah A.; Cowen, Joshua; Denice, Patrick ; Gross, Betheny; Lincove, Jane Arnold ; Sattin-Bajaj, Carolyn; Schwartz, Amy Ellen; Valant, Jon
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    How to get to school is an important issue for families who want to send their children to schools outside their neighborhood and for education policymakers seeking to implement school choice policies that mitigate educational inequality. We analyze travel times between the homes and schools of nearly 190,000 students across five large US cities that offer a significant amount of educational choice:  Denver, Detroit, New Orleans, New York City, and Washington, DC. We find: 

    • Despite wide variation across cities in student transportation policy, there are similar student transportation patterns across our cities. Most students live within a 20-minute drive from home to their school. Older students travel farther to school than younger students, and black students travel farther than white or Hispanic students. Students who are not low income tend to travel farther than their low-income peers.
    • Particularly among older students, those enrolled in traditional public schools tend to travel as far, or in some cases farther, than those attending charter schools....

    How to get to school is an important issue for families who want to send their children to schools outside their neighborhood and for education policymakers seeking to implement school choice policies that mitigate educational inequality. We analyze travel times between the homes and schools of nearly 190,000 students across five large US cities that offer a significant amount of educational choice:  Denver, Detroit, New Orleans, New York City, and Washington, DC. We find: 

    • Despite wide variation across cities in student transportation policy, there are similar student transportation patterns across our cities. Most students live within a 20-minute drive from home to their school. Older students travel farther to school than younger students, and black students travel farther than white or Hispanic students. Students who are not low income tend to travel farther than their low-income peers.
    • Particularly among older students, those enrolled in traditional public schools tend to travel as far, or in some cases farther, than those attending charter schools.
    • Access to “high quality” high schools varies across cities, race and ethnicity, and on the quality measure used. However, ninth-grade students, on average, tend to live about a 10-minute drive from a “high quality” high school.
    • Access to a car can significantly increase the number of schools available to a family. Typical travel times to school by public transit are significantly greater than by car, especially in cities with less efficient transit networks.

    Just as there are inequalities and differences in students’ academic performance across these cities, we see parallel inequalities and differences in the distances that students travel and in the availability of nearby school options. Experiments in targeted policy interventions, such as implementing transportation vouchers for low-income parents of very young students, using yellow buses on circulating routes, or changing the way that school siting decisions are made, might yield pragmatic solutions that further level the playing field for a city’s most disadvantaged students. (Author abstract) 

  • Individual Author: Blumenberg, Evelyn; Pierce, Gregory
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2016

    Transportation enables low-income individuals to find and travel to employment. This article analyzes the relationship between access to automobiles and public transit and employment outcomes of low-income households. We use longitudinal survey data from participants in the Welfare to Work Voucher Program, which was conducted in five US metropolitan areas between 1999 and 2005. Multinomial logistic regression shows that baseline access to automobiles has a strong positive relationship to follow-up employment but public transit access and receipt of housing assistance do not. Our findings suggest that enhancing car access will notably improve employment outcomes among very-low-income adults, but other assistance will have, at best, marginal effects. (author abstract)

    Transportation enables low-income individuals to find and travel to employment. This article analyzes the relationship between access to automobiles and public transit and employment outcomes of low-income households. We use longitudinal survey data from participants in the Welfare to Work Voucher Program, which was conducted in five US metropolitan areas between 1999 and 2005. Multinomial logistic regression shows that baseline access to automobiles has a strong positive relationship to follow-up employment but public transit access and receipt of housing assistance do not. Our findings suggest that enhancing car access will notably improve employment outcomes among very-low-income adults, but other assistance will have, at best, marginal effects. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Bailey, Andrea Leigh
    Reference Type: Thesis
    Year: 2015

    The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service estimates that 23.5 million people live in food deserts, over half of which are considered low-income residents. Accurately defining a food desert is crucial as the designated areas can benefit from grant opportunities and funding priority. To qualify as an urban food desert, the USDA requires that at least 500 residents or one-third of the population live outside a one-mile buffer from a supermarket as well as have a median income of less than 80% of the area average or a poverty rate of greater than 20%. Approaches in the literature to identify low accessibility areas (food deserts) include simple spatial analyses, travel cost models, grocery cost models, and activity-based models. Although using cost as a measure of access is beneficial, the travel cost components are ill-defined, especially for transit. Additionally, defining food deserts as a ratio of travel cost to median household income may more accurately reflect areas with poor accessibility to healthy food by utilizing a combined measure...

    The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service estimates that 23.5 million people live in food deserts, over half of which are considered low-income residents. Accurately defining a food desert is crucial as the designated areas can benefit from grant opportunities and funding priority. To qualify as an urban food desert, the USDA requires that at least 500 residents or one-third of the population live outside a one-mile buffer from a supermarket as well as have a median income of less than 80% of the area average or a poverty rate of greater than 20%. Approaches in the literature to identify low accessibility areas (food deserts) include simple spatial analyses, travel cost models, grocery cost models, and activity-based models. Although using cost as a measure of access is beneficial, the travel cost components are ill-defined, especially for transit. Additionally, defining food deserts as a ratio of travel cost to median household income may more accurately reflect areas with poor accessibility to healthy food by utilizing a combined measure instead of distinct income and access components.

    This paper develops a cost surface for auto, transit, and walking to determine the average travel cost to the nearest supermarket for each mode in Indianapolis using Spatial Analyst in ArcGIS 10.2. Given the results from ArcGIS, spatial lag models are used to model the proportion of household income spent on traveling to supermarkets as a function of socioeconomic variables. The results show that a higher crime density, no college degree, and living outside of I-465 are all correlated with poorer accessibility to healthy food. These explanatory variables had similar effects for driving and walking, but the transit network was less sensitive to education and crime and more location-dependent. For this study, working with the police department and community to reduce crime as well as expanding the transit network are both recommended as potential interventions. Results from this analysis can provide valuable insight into the reasons behind the existence of food deserts. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Blumenberg, Evelyn; Pierce, Gregory; Smart, Michael
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2015

    Access to automobiles may be particularly important to housing voucher recipients, who are more likely than residents of public housing to live in suburban neighborhoods where transit service is often limited. Access to high-quality public transit is more likely to benefit low-income households who live in dense central-city neighborhoods in close proximity to employment. In this analysis we draw on survey data from two housing voucher experiments—the Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing and Welfare-to-Work Voucher programs—to examine the relationship between access to automobiles and public transit and the employment and earnings outcomes of program participants.

    Our research underscores the importance of automobiles in achieving desirable outcomes for families who receive subsidized housing. Access to automobiles is associated with improved economic outcomes for all program participants and better facilitates job acquisition, job retention, and earnings than public transit. Our findings suggest the need to better link housing and transportation programs and to pursue a...

    Access to automobiles may be particularly important to housing voucher recipients, who are more likely than residents of public housing to live in suburban neighborhoods where transit service is often limited. Access to high-quality public transit is more likely to benefit low-income households who live in dense central-city neighborhoods in close proximity to employment. In this analysis we draw on survey data from two housing voucher experiments—the Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing and Welfare-to-Work Voucher programs—to examine the relationship between access to automobiles and public transit and the employment and earnings outcomes of program participants.

    Our research underscores the importance of automobiles in achieving desirable outcomes for families who receive subsidized housing. Access to automobiles is associated with improved economic outcomes for all program participants and better facilitates job acquisition, job retention, and earnings than public transit. Our findings suggest the need to better link housing and transportation programs and to pursue a set of policies that increase automobile access among all subsidized housing recipients. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Blumenberg, Evelyn; Thomas, Trevor
    Year: 2014

    In 1996, President Clinton signed into law the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act or welfare reform. As part of this act, Congress established a set a welfare block-grant program that included a set of provisions intended to promote employment. In the aftermath of these reforms, policymakers turned to transportation as one strategy to rapidly transition welfare recipients and other low-income adults into the labor market. As foundation for these transportation programs, studies documented the travel patterns of the poor and highlighted their limited access to automobiles.

    Given the many changes that have occurred since the 1990s, it is time to revisit these data. In this study, therefore, we draw on the 1995 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS) and the 2009 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) to examine changes in the commute travel of low-income adults since welfare reform. The data provide evidence that reliance on automobiles has grown stronger over time, reflecting the many advantages of cars in increasingly decentralized...

    In 1996, President Clinton signed into law the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act or welfare reform. As part of this act, Congress established a set a welfare block-grant program that included a set of provisions intended to promote employment. In the aftermath of these reforms, policymakers turned to transportation as one strategy to rapidly transition welfare recipients and other low-income adults into the labor market. As foundation for these transportation programs, studies documented the travel patterns of the poor and highlighted their limited access to automobiles.

    Given the many changes that have occurred since the 1990s, it is time to revisit these data. In this study, therefore, we draw on the 1995 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS) and the 2009 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) to examine changes in the commute travel of low-income adults since welfare reform. The data provide evidence that reliance on automobiles has grown stronger over time, reflecting the many advantages of cars in increasingly decentralized environments. However, some population groups—particularly the carless—have become increasingly dependent on public transit to access work. These findings suggest the importance of protecting and expanding vital transit services for those who need them, while at the same time responding to the needs of low-income households who may be better served through personal vehicular travel. (author abstract)

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