Informality and accessibility to jobs by public transit: Evidence from the São Paulo Metropolitan Region

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - south america, planning - service improvement


Accessibility, job informality, public transport


Access to opportunities through public transport can have different impacts on individual's life especially in developing countries where opportunities are limited, job informality rates are high, and socioeconomic characteristics gaps are big. The aim of this paper is to explore the relationship between job informality and accessibility to employment by public transport in São Paulo Metropolitan Region (SPMR), Brazil. To do so, we calculate a cumulative-opportunity measure of accessibility to jobs for 633 areas within the SPMR. We use a multilevel mixed-effects logistic regression model to estimate the effect of job accessibility on the likelihood of being informally employed, controlling for individual and other area characteristics. To account for informal sector heterogeneity, two regression models are generated: one for the workers earning below minimum wage and one for the workers earning above minimum wage. The results show that accessibility to jobs is unevenly distributed across the region, largely concentrated in the core of the region, and especially in the high-income areas. The regression results show that for workers earning less than the minimum wage, a higher level of accessibility to jobs by public transport is associated with a lower likelihood of being a worker in the informal job sector. For informal workers earning more than the minimum wage, car ownership seem to be more relevant than transit accessibility in determining the likelihood of being part of the informal job sector. In light of these findings, increasing accessibility by public transport through either expanding transit services to areas with high informality rates to have a better access to formal jobs or supporting the decentralization of formal jobs may be a way to achieve reductions in informality rates, especially among those earning less than the minimum wage.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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