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Who knows about kids these days? Analyzing the determinants of youth and adult mobility in the U.S. between 1990 and 2009


  • Blumenberg, Evelyn
  • Ralph, Kelcie
  • Smart, Michael
  • Taylor, Brian D.


The 2000s was a decade of transitions for teens and young adults. In comparison with previous generations of youth, those living in the developed world (i) faced the harshest economic climate in decades, (ii) lived with their parents longer and were more likely to return back home as young adults, (iii) used information and communication technologies (ICTs) extensively, and (iv) in the U.S., were subject to increasingly stringent graduated driver’s licensing (GDL) regulations. All were dramatic societal changes to be sure, but how did they affect youth travel behavior? Some argue dramatically and enduringly, but usually with fragmentary evidence. We examine data from the three most recent U.S. national travel surveys and find that, with one exception, after controlling for personal, household, locational, and travel factors, the effects of factors associated with various societal trends on person-kilometers traveled (PKT) are surprisingly muted. The exception is that decreased employment is associated with substantially lower PKT; however, this effect is 32% greater among older (ages 27–61) than younger (ages 20–26) adults, suggesting that economic factors, rather than changes in youth travel preferences, were at the root of declines in personal travel in the U.S. during the 2000s.

Suggested Citation

  • Blumenberg, Evelyn & Ralph, Kelcie & Smart, Michael & Taylor, Brian D., 2016. "Who knows about kids these days? Analyzing the determinants of youth and adult mobility in the U.S. between 1990 and 2009," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 39-54.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:93:y:2016:i:c:p:39-54
    DOI: 10.1016/j.tra.2016.08.010

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    References listed on IDEAS

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