Research Projects

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Research Projects

STATUS: In Progress YEAR: 2017 TOPIC AREA: Public transit, land use, and urban mobility CENTER: PSR

Examining Spatial Mismatch Through a New Geography of Opportunity Index

Project Summary

Funding Source(s) and
Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization)



Total Project Cost


Agency ID or Contract Number

No sub-award number yet

Start and End Dates

1/1/2018 – 12/31/2018

Brief Description of
Research Project

The objective of this project is to develop a new index of geographic opportunity that improves upon existing measures to analyze the spatial mismatch between job growth and populations in urban settings. Past measures of job accessibility have relied on measures of linear distance between populations and job, actual commute times for those working, or much simpler regional approaches.  These past measures suffer from combinations of measurement error and endogeneity due to the fact that linear distance is most relevant if someone has a car and commute times derived from a working population subsumes a set of job market and residential choices for this population.  Past measures are most problematic for the most disadvantaged populations that are unlikely to have a car. This research highlights the need to develop an exogenous measure of job access that does not require car ownership.  In the proposed study, we will develop a gravity model of job access that uses travel time in public transportation.  Generalized Transit Feed Specification data can be used to replace measures of actual commute times of workers and linear distance to produce better estimates for job accessibility for the most vulnerable populations.  We will then test this new measure of the Geography of Opportunity in models of spatial mismatch to determine how job accessibility impact employment outcomes.  This study has important implications for understanding patterns of unemployment, underemployment, and access to labor markets, especially for populations with employment barriers.

Describe Implementation of Research Outcomes (or why not implemented)


Impacts/Benefits of Implementation (actual, not anticipated)


Web Links, Reports, Project website




Gary Painter
Professor, Sol Price School of Public Policy
635 W. Downey Way, VPD 207
Los Angeles, CA 90089-3331
United States
[email protected]


Marlon Boarnet
Senior Associate Dean, Academic Affairs; Professor & Director of Graduate Programs in Urban Planning, Sol Price School of Public Policy
650 Childs Way
Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall (RGL) 301CLos Angeles, CA 90089-0626
United States
[email protected]