Healthy Roads, Healthy Schools: A Look Into the Effects of Transportation Infrastructure

05/09/2012 09:18 am ET | Updated Jul 09, 2012

Editors Note: Huffington Post College is partnering with students, universities and colleges around the world to publish annotated versions of their thesis projects this May. Want us to publish your work? Email us at with thesis abstracts limited to between 800 and 1,000 words. Please include a headshot and a two-sentence biography with your submissions.

This study examines the correlation between development of public transportation, increased access to health care, decreased absenteeism, increased secondary graduation rates, and increased workforce health and productivity. The study explores whether increased investments in public transportation in rural and urban areas will provide greater access to available local health care, hypothesizing that if access to health care is improved, school/workforce attendance and productivity will improve as well. Through an analysis of extant research and publications, this study correlates better access to health care, increased graduation rates, and higher job productivity. This study examines leading countries for transportation funding, health care access, graduation rates, and economic loss related to absenteeism and how the United States compares.

The main function of roads, buses, and trains is to get people from A to B, however, wherever that may be is precisely what makes transportation infrastructure in the United States so fundamental to growth. The Department of Transportation, through intricate road planning has created the possibility for people to commute from long distances via personal cars. But what if vehicles are not an option for transit? The importance of direct public transportation to health care providers is as important as having qualified doctors and nurses available at these facilities. If the patient cannot afford private transportation to the doctor, the quality of medical providers is moot. When children with chronic health conditions are not adequately treated, they are left behind in their classes either because of absences or chronic, distracting pain. Children who fall behind in school at an early age are more likely to drop out of high school, thus lowering the student's future hire-ability. Investments in transportation are investments in a productive and healthy workforce.

Specifically, this study examines the correlation between increasing development of transportation infrastructure in order to increase access to health care, increase secondary graduation rates and ultimately increase workforce productivity.

Transportation infrastructure is defined in this study, but is not limited to, easily accessible public transportation, whereas job productivity is measured in use of sick leave. The study looks at whether increased investments in transportation infrastructure in rural and urban environments gives people greater access to local health care. Due to an increase in accessibility, it is proposed that low graduation rates can be effectively treated by addressing health concerns early before they progress to more serious conditions that will cause adults and children to miss more work and school. The study examines how better access to health care increases hire-ability, job productivity, and graduation rates. Job productivity and graduation rates are analyzed in other countries in relation to these countries' connections to health care access via public transportation and road development. It is predicted that there is a positive correlation between the amount of transportation funding and graduation rates/job productivity.

Numerous previous studies, many of which cited in the work, look at more specific aspects of this study: access to transportation acting as a barrier to basic mobility, effects of illness on childhood attendance and performance in school, effects of attendance on graduation rates thus hire-ability, and finally how the United States fares in international comparisons. This study serves as the link between these previously studied areas in hopes of establishing a better understanding of the linear effects of transportation on productivity, health, and aptitude. When looking at barriers to health care, the other factors besides transportation, such as insurance coverage and cost, have been taken into account but are not used in this study as the barrier to basic mobility as it relates to health care. The opportunities and benefits presented in this study promote a reform of the current transportation system in the United States to one more focused on advanced development of an elaborate, efficient and comprehensive public transportation system.

The benefits of this type of travel are not just environmentally sound, but ultimately beneficial to health. This in turn allows people to function more efficiently in school and in the workplace. Access to health care is a perpetuating problem. A lack of comprehension in school can lead a child to drop out or fall behind, which affects the rest of the student's future. Salaries for people who do not graduate high school are significantly lower than those who do graduate. Of those who do graduate high school but do not graduate college, their salaries, compared to college graduates, are averaged to be lower as well.

Having a lack of educational framework is a great hindrance to the hire-ability of job applicants. These undereducated applicants are unable to work their way out of the unequal transportation system allowing the problem to continue for the next generation. Transportation equality instead will allow people to get to the doctor more often to achieve a greater understanding of preventative measures that can be taken to avoid chronic illnesses, like asthma and obesity, that plague our nation and our schools