Women's changing commutes: The work trips of single mothers in the new york region, 2000-2010

Monika Maciejewska, Sara Mclafferty, Valerie Preston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Single mothers are an important and growing segment of the U.S. workforce. As primary breadwinners and caregivers, they shoulder a 'double burden' that often constrains their access to job opportunities and reinforces their commuting challenges. In the urban areas where most single mothers live, ongoing transformations of the built environment associated with gentrifi cation and uneven transit investment may exacerbate their commuting challenges. We examine the impacts of built environment characteristics on single mothers' reliance on various transportation modes for their commuting trips in the New York metropolitan region. Our analysis focuses on changes in mode use during the 2000s, a period of rapid change in the region's built environment. Using microdata from the 2000 and 2008-2012 U.S. Census PUMS, we analyse geographic and racial/ethnic inequalities in single mothers' mode choices and the socioeconomic and contextual factors that infl uence transit dependence. Our results show that transit use is increasing both among single and married mothers, as working mothers shift away from commuting by car. At the same time, single mothers increasingly live in suburban and peripheral areas where access to transit is limited. Although only a relatively small percentage of suburban single mothers commute via transit, that percentage increased from 2000 to 2010. Transit dependence is especially high among minority single mothers and that disparity persists after controlling residential location, transit access, hourly earnings and sociodemographic characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)544-562
Number of pages19
JournalBuilt Environment
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019


  • Commuting
  • Mode choice
  • New York
  • Public transit
  • Race
  • Single mothers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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