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Open Access Publications from the University of California

En-gendering Effective Planning: Spatial Mismatch, Low-Income Women, and Transportation Policy


Welfare-to-work transportation programs are premised on a conceptualization of the spatial mismatch hypothesis that focuses on the mismatch between the central city locations of welfare participants, rapidly expanding job opportunities in the suburbs, and the long commutes needed to connect them. Feminist scholarship and travel behavior research, however, show that low-income, single mothers have travel patterns that are not consistent with a mismatch between central city residents commuting considerable distances to suburban jobs. Premising welfare-to-work transportation policies on the spatial mismatch hypothesis has thus resulted in a policy mismatch between welfare recipients and their transportation needs. To better address the transportation needs of low-income mothers, policies must account for the important role of gender in determining where welfare recipients will look for work, how they are likely to conduct their job searches, and the mode by which they travel to both employment and household-supporting destinations.

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