Research Projects


Yilin Zhang, MPL 2018


On Wednesday, February 1st, METRANS held its second transportation research seminar of the spring semester featuring Dr. Gary Painter, Professor in the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, sharing his METRANS funded research, “Inter-Urban Migration and Public Transit,” which explored how inter-urban migration of recent immigrants affect public transit ridership.

Photo by Deng Yang

Professor Painter began the seminar with an introduction to the fact that immigrants are more mobile than native-born populations, yet the U.S. gross internal mobility rate has declined since the 2008 recession. The mobility rates of immigrants also declined sharply after the recession and have converged to the native-born population’s rate.

He then introduced the data and models in his project, and some of the challenges he faced in this research project, including the fact that the data were in multiple levels (UA & PUMA/MIGPUMA level) and that determining the out-migration effect is particularly difficult. His research concluded that “Urbanized areas with higher in-migration rates of recent immigrants from other countries has increased in [transit] ridership.” Before closing, Professor Painter also introduced the next steps of his research. “If we feel like this is a robust finding that these in-migration rates are an additional variable [rather] than just population characteristics,” he said, “you could use that for model forecasting for planning.”

“This event helped update me about research in the transportation sector,” remarked Price Ph.D. candidate Hue Tam Jamme, “and it brought out one of the most interesting things – hearing the audience’s feedback on an on-going project.”

Click here to watch highlights from this seminar.


Gary Dean Painter

Gary Dean Painter, Ph.D., is a Professor in the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. He also serves as the Director of Social Policy in the Sol Price Center for Social Innovation. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley. Professor Painter’s research interests focus on social innovation, housing, urban economics, and education policy; he is among the world’s foremost experts on how changing demographics impact U.S. housing markets. Recent work has focused on how immigrants are integrating into housing markets across the U.S. and the role of the economic cycle on household formation. He has served as a consultant for the National Association of Realtors, Pacific Economics Group, Andrew Davidson Co., Fannie Mae, Grant Thornton LLP, Burr Consulting, and the Research Institute for Housing America.


About the author: Yilin Zhang

Yilin Zhang is a student assistant at METRANS Transportation Center. She is a first-year Master of Planning student at the USC Price School of Public Policy with a transportation concentration. She is interested in transportation as well as Geographic Information Systems and is seeking career opportunities in these fields.