The effect of income on car ownership: evidence of asymmetry
This paper examines the effect of income on car ownership, and specifically the question of hysteresis or asymmetry. Although there is little doubt that rising income leads to higher car ownership, less is understood about the effect of falling income. Traditional demand modelling is based on the implicit assumption that demand responds symmetrically to rising and falling income. The object of this study is to test this assumption statistically. Using a dynamic econometric model relating household car ownership to income, the number of adults and children in the household, car prices and lagged car ownership, income decomposition techniques are employed to separately estimate elasticities with respect to rising and falling income. The equality of these elasticities - no hysteresis - is tested statistically against the inequality - hysteresis - hypothesis. Various functional specifications are tested in order to assure the robustness of the results to assumptions concerning functional form. The estimation is based on cohort data constructed from 1970 to 1995 UK Family Expenditure Surveys, and a pseudo-panel methodology is employed. The results indicate that car ownership responds more strongly to rising than to falling income - there is a 'stickiness' in the downward direction. In addition, there is evidence that the income elasticity is not constant, but instead declines with increasing car ownership.
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Volume (Year): 35 (2001)
Issue (Month): 9 (November)
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