Washington, D.C., November 29, 1999 – While grouching over holiday traffic preoccupies much of the nation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute today releases a new study on the automobile’s role in expanding social equality. The study, “Cars, Women & Minorities—The Democratization of Mobility in America”, concludes that access to cars is a major means by which disempowered groups and immigrants have been able to move into the mainstream of American life. The author of the study, noted transportation expert Alan E. Pisarski, will speak on this issue tomorrow at a conference on national mobility.
“Mobility means most to those who have recently achieved it, or are now on the verge of attaining it,” stated Mr. Pisarski, emphasizing the importance of mobility to the lives of the least affluent in society. “Access to mainstream jobs and social opportunities in America depends in large part on having a car, yet while women have nearly achieved equality in this respect, minorities are still lagging in key measures of automobility,” Mr. Pisarski continued.
The study examines how access to the marketplace of employment is often dependent on access to transportation, and how that relationship impacts the chances for economic advancement of women and minorities. For example, the percentage of African-American households without cars is nearly five times as great as that of white households. The increasing affordability of cars means that these disparities are steadily declining. Nonetheless, this hopeful trend is endangered by an array of attacks on auto use, ranging from global warming concerns to the debate over “urban sprawl”. These attacks jeopardize one of America’s key means for economic and social advancement. The middle class may perhaps be able to afford restrictions on automobility, but impoverished groups will not be.
Copies of the study are available from CEI, or can be viewed on our website at http://www.cei.org. Mr. Pisarski will address this topic tomorrow at Driving America, a national conference on mobility sponsored by the American Highway Users Alliance (National Press Club, 8:15 AM). Mr. Pisarski is the Chair of the National Academy of Science’s Transportation Research Board Committee on National Transportation Statistics, and has been involved in transportation issues for over 25 years.
CEI, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984, is dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information, please contact Richard Morrison, Associate Director of Media Relations, at (202) 331-1010.