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Demographic Response to Transportation Innovation: The Case of the Interstate Highway

Daniel T. Lichter and Glenn V. Fuguitt
Social Forces
Vol. 59, No. 2 (Dec., 1980), pp. 492-512
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/2578033
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2578033
Page Count: 21
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Demographic Response to Transportation Innovation: The Case of the Interstate Highway
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Abstract

The development of a system of interstate highways in the U.S. has rekindled an interest in demographic responses to transportation innovation. In this paper we examine the relationship between date of completion of an inter-state highway and changes in nonmetropolitan county population and employment characteristics during three time periods, 1950-60, 1960-70, and 1970-75. We also attempt to explicate the underlying process by which access to a modern highway affects growth or net migration. This is accomplished by decomposing the association between presence of a highway and net migration into direct and indirect (through industrial employment change) components. Results indicate that interstate counties consistently maintained an advantage over noninterstate counties in net migration, proportion experiencing net immigration (or a turnaround in net migration), and employment growth. Data also suggest that the positive effect of highways on net migration was most in evidence in less remote areas and that it operated largely by promoting employment change in service employment-both nonlocal and tourist-related. There is little evidence that the demographic effect of highways proceeded through expanded manufacturing which, in turn, promoted inmigration.

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