Impacts of Light Rail Transit on Labor Participation and Housing Affordability in the U.S.: Longitudinal Analysis Using Propensity Score Matching

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - tram/light rail, place - north america, place - urban, land use - impacts, economics - benefits, planning - surveys, planning - methods


Economic impacts, Employment, Housing, Labor force, Light rail transit, Longitudinal studies, Rent


Planners and planning scholars have debated the effects of public transit on changes in various employment outcomes. However, few studies have tried to understand how public transit affects employment changes in a community while accounting for housing costs at the same time. As an update to and methodological advance on early studies, this study aims to measure light rail transit (LRT) systems’ impacts on the change in labor participation and housing affordability. This study uses the decennial Census and 5-year American Community Survey (ACS) data at the block group level and conducts propensity score matching in 12 selected LRT systems across the U.S. opened between 2000 and 2010. By comparing growth rates of the average weeks worked and the median gross rent between treatment and control groups, the results show that an introduction of an LRT station increases the average weeks worked—a measure of labor participation—while not raising the median gross rent. Further analysis also shows that the increased average weeks worked after operation of LRT systems is a result of an increase in the percentage of full-time and year-round workers and a decrease in the proportion of part-time and part-year workers. Ultimately, the findings provide planners and policymakers with a better understanding of the effects of LRT systems on the economic stability of urban communities.


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