Clark, B., Lyons, G. and Chatterjee, K.
Exploring the interactions between life events, neighbourhood choice and car ownership transitions: Insights from a retrospective longitudinal survey.
44th Universities' Transport Studies Group Conference, Aberdeen, UK, January 2012.
Publisher's URL: http://www.utsg.net/web/index.php?page=annual-conf...
A great deal has been written about the factors associated with cross-sectional variations in household car ownership. For example, observing that car ownership levels tend to increase with increasing distance from urban centres. However, much less has been discovered about the time dependent processes through which household car ownership states arise. Accordingly, this paper presents a study which addressed how and why household car ownership changes over time.
Noting the lack of an agreed theory relating to the dynamics of household car ownership, the paper first puts forward a new framework depicting a life event driven process of car ownership change. The framework emerged through a qualitative analysis of 15 biographical interviews and was tested through a survey of 248 households located in one inner-urban and one outer-urban neighbourhood in Bristol.
The results confirm the importance of life events and life stage to car ownership level change. Younger households have a tendency to increase car ownership level from zero to one or more cars as they move towards middle age. Vehicle relinquishments are more likely to occur in older age following retirement in association with health and income constraints. Over 70 percent of car ownership level changes recorded by the survey were associated with either a change in working circumstances, cohabitation, an adult joining or leaving the household, residential relocation, child birth or offspring reaching driving age. The survey also reveals a process of population churn in the two neighbourhoods and suggests that this acted to maintain both a stable population composition (in terms of life stage characteristics) and a stable aggregate car ownership level in the period since the 2001 census.
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