Attaining the American Dream: How Physical Mobility Shapes Upward Mobility Open Access

Lee, Elyse Hyuna (2016)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/m613mz14s?locale=en
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Abstract

Scholars across various disciplines have studied how to increase opportunities for upward mobility, focusing on variables such as income inequality, education, racial dynamics, and family structures. This study contributes to the literature by exploring whether a virtually absent variable in the scholarship, access to public transit, can help explain the probability for a child born in the lowest income quartile to rise to the highest income quartile by the time they reach adulthood. This study utilizes a mixed quantitative and qualitative research design to explore this relationship across forty-five metropolitan statistical areas across the United States. Ultimately, the results of this study suggest that higher levels of public transit accessibility are positively correlated with higher levels of upward mobility in these metropolitan statistical areas.

Table of Contents

Introduction…………………………………….…………………..……………….…………………………………………………..1

Theory………………………..……………………………………………………..……………………….........................…4

Hypotheses…………..……………………………………………….………………………………..……….…………..………...10
Research Design………………………………………………………….…………………………………………..……………….11
Part I: Quantitative Study…………...…..……………………………….…………………………………………..….…..12

Unit of analysis…………………………………………….………………………............................................. 12

Dependent Variable…………………………………….………..………..……….………………………………..…......... 14

Independent Variable….……………………………....…………………….…………………………..………… ......... 18

Control Variables …………………………………………………………………………….…………………………… ........... 21

Data Analysis.….……………………………………….……….……………………………….……………………….. .......... 22

Part II: Qualitative Study: San Francisco..……………………………………………..…………..…………….…..25

Case Selection………………….…………………….………………………….……………………….………..……... ......... 25

Background……………………………..……..………..…………………..……….……………………………………...........27

Case Methodology….………….……………….....……..…………………….………………………………...…… ......... 32

Data Analysis.….………….….……...…………………………………………………………………………………… .......... 34

Concluding Notes………...……………………………………………………………..…………….…………………….………38

Policy Implications ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. .......... 38

Future Research …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ........... 42

Works Cited…………………………………………………………..……………………………...………………………………….46

Tables……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………....52
Figures………………………………………………….………………………………….…..……………………………………......53

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