Heidi Selberg, Envision Board Member and Upward Mobility Signals Team
Our team’s previous reports have shown the importance of public policy in supporting upward mobility. Judy Nagel’s reports have outlined international comparisons, demonstrating that several government policies related to childcare, health, and other matters are critical to those countries’ higher rates of upward mobility. But what if upward mobility in the U.S. is not accelerating because our institutions are becoming weaker?
Heidi Selberg, Envision Board member Upward Mobility Signals Team
Access to transportation has been identified by the Urban Institute and others as a critical factor in boosting upward mobility. But what happens when the definition of access to transportation changes? How do cities and rural areas respond? What infrastructure is necessary, and what becomes obsolete? And what are the implications for the environment?
These questions and others are addressed in a recent report in the Washington Post. In ‘I’ll call an Uber or 911’: Why Gen Z Doesn’t Want to Drive, reporter Shannon Osaka notes declining rates of car ownership among Gen Z (born 1996-2012) and fewer getting their driver’s licenses in their teens – if at all. Reasons include the costs of car ownership, anxiety about driving and possible accidents, and environmental concerns. The availability of transportation alternatives makes it easier not to have a driver’s license or one’s own vehicle – and public transportation is not necessarily the primary alternative. E-scooters, e-bikes, ride-sharing, and on-line alternatives all provide options to driving a traditional vehicle to be with others.
Will it last? Will the trend materialize in less urban areas? And does this change the model for public transportation? Perhaps it already has, as municipalities develop agreements with scooter and bike companies to offer short term use of such vehicles. Another trend to watch!
Heidi Selberg, Board Member Envision Greater Green Bay
Research on upward mobility shows that other western countries have greater rates of upward mobility than the United States. This is often attributed to those countries’ policies of offering more plentiful social supports. Further, it’s often asserted that the culture of personal responsibility and self-reliance in the United States is a significant barrier to providing the kinds of social supports present in other countries.
A front-page article in the Sunday, October 9, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel outlines this argument through a healthcare lens. It’s surprising to see this position outlined in a major daily newspaper–one that is the largest and considered to be the most influential newspaper in Wisconsin. Healthcare reporter Guy Bolton and reporting intern Alexa Jurado discuss the impact of constrained resources on health. They note the difference in public support for high-tech treatments versus the cost of providing safe and stable housing, and the growing view of healthcare leaders that more needs to be done to provide social supports. Read the full article here.