, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 495–510 | Cite as

Car today, gone tomorrow: The ephemeral car in low-income, immigrant and minority families

  • Nicholas J. KleinEmail author
  • Michael J. Smart


Most transportation research in the United States uses cross-sectional, “snapshot” data to understand levels of car access. Might this cross-sectional approach mask considerable variation over time and within households? We use a panel dataset, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), for the years 1999–2011 to test this question. We find that for most families, being “carless” is a temporary condition. While 13 % of families in the US are carless in any given year, only 5 % of families are carless for all seven waves of data we examine in the PSID. We also find that poor families, immigrants, and people of color (particularly, blacks) are considerably more likely to transition into and out car ownership frequently and are less likely to have a car in any survey year than are non-poor families, the US-born, and whites.


Car ownership Panel data Poverty Immigration 



This material is based upon work supported by the US Department of Transportation’s University Transportation Centers Program under Grant Number DTRT12-G-UTC21.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article reflect the views of the authors, who are responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the information presented herein. This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the US Department of Transportation’s University Transportation Centers Program, in the interest of information exchange. The US Government assumes no liability for the contents or use thereof.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Community and Regional Planning, School of Environmental DesignTemple UniversityAmblerUSA
  2. 2.Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public PolicyRutgers, the State University of New JerseyNew BrunswickUSA

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