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A big report is out on the importance of Route 66, which John Steinbeck dubbed America’s “mother road.”
The study by Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, the National Park Service and the American Express Foundation argues for state spending to support this culture and economic institution.
But who enjoys the road from Chicago to Santa Monica?
The socioeconomic profile of the Route 66 traveller is:
1. Overwhelmingly (97 per cent) white in race.
2. Overwhelmingly (97 per cent) not Hispanic in ethnicity (recall however, the English-only
version of the survey).
3. Generally (71 per cent) married, though about one-tenth never married and one-seventh
are currently divorced/widowed/separated.
4. Overwhelmingly middle-age (median of about 55 years) with a prominent senior contingent
(46 per cent were 60 years or older) and a younger cohort as well (about one-ninth were 20
to 39 years of age).
5. Generally (61 per cent) in a two-member household, though about one seventh were in
one-member households and a small share (3 per cent) were in large households of five or
6. Typically well educated (about 30 per cent have started or finished undergraduate college
and an approximately equal share have started/completed graduate work), with some
exceptions (about one-eighth have either just attended or graduated high school).
7. Employed in many occupations (about one-fifth are in service, sales, transportation,
and maintenance), though the most popular occupation category by far (36 per cent) is
management and professional (the latter management/professional finding comporting
with the typically more advanced educational attainment noted earlier). Of note is that
about four-tenths of the Route 66 travellers are retired.
8. Generally of middle-income (median household income of about $62,500), though there is
a considerable range in household earnings (about 8 per cent earn $25,000 or less annually,
while almost one-quarter earn $100,000 or more per year).
9. Compared to the persons living in the Route 66 Corridor (derived from the 2000 Census
and described later in this summary), the Route 66 traveller (derived from our survey), is:
far more likely to be white in race; has a much lower share of Hispanic ethnicity; has more
years of schooling; is far more likely to be either retired, or if employed, is working as a
professional or manager; and is more affluent from an income standpoint.
10. Comparing the Route 66 traveller to heritage and cultural travellers more broadly (the latter
information derived from the Travel Industry Association of America and Rutgers research
on other studies) shows many similarities. For instance, both groups are decidedly middleaged,
are well educated, are relatively affluent and are dis pro por tionately either retired or
work in professional/managerial occupations.