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The role of parents’ mobility behavior for dynamics in car availability and commute mode use


  • Lisa Döring

    () (TU Dortmund University)

  • Maarten Kroesen

    (TU Delft)

  • Christian Holz-Rau

    (TU Dortmund University)


Abstract Recent studies have analyzed travel behavior over the life course through the lens of the mobility biography approach. Similarities in the effects of certain key events on travel behavior have been found. At the same time, family background influences changes in travel behavior in the long run. However, to date, the role of parents’ mobility behavior on their adult children’s mobility behavior has not yet been analyzed. In addition, there has been no empirical analysis of mobility biographies that simultaneously considers aging, key events, changes in residential location, changes in commute distance and parental socialization. This paper uses intergenerational mobility biographies and investigates the role of these variables in explaining changes in car availability and commuting mode use. To this end, a unique retrospective dataset is used of more than 1600 mobility biographies of persons born around 1957 as well as the mobility biographies of their parents. Markov models are used to analyze mobility behavior over the life course. The results show that parents’ behavior is not directly associated with the behavior of their adult descendants. However, age, attitude towards the car, gender and changes in the built environment are important predictors for dynamics in car availability. Commute mode changes are dominantly associated with changes in commute distance but also with changes in car availability and attitude. Key events such as divorce or childbirth are less important. The results suggest that there are indirect parental socialization effects via residential location and attitude on car availability and commute mode use. This paper points out the importance of the life course, changes in commute distance and changes in the built environment for car availability and commute mode use and is an example of the application of Markov models for the analysis of quantitative mobility biographies.

Suggested Citation

  • Lisa Döring & Maarten Kroesen & Christian Holz-Rau, 2019. "The role of parents’ mobility behavior for dynamics in car availability and commute mode use," Transportation, Springer, vol. 46(3), pages 957-994, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:transp:v:46:y:2019:i:3:d:10.1007_s11116-017-9823-x
    DOI: 10.1007/s11116-017-9823-x

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