Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2019 - , University of Essex

A longer road to adulthood: explaining generational shifts in car driving

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Day:Wed 3 Jul
  • Kiron Chatterjee, University of the West of England Bristol

Young people in Great Britain are driving less now than they did in the early 1990s.  Driving licence holding peaked in 1992/4 with 48% of 17-20 year olds and 75% of 21-29 year olds holding a driving licence. By 2014, driving licence holding had fallen to 29% of 17-20 year olds and 63% of 21-29 year olds. Understanding Society data was used as part of a study undertaken for the Department for Transport which sought to understand the reasons why young people in Great Britain are driving less than previous generations. Analysis of Understanding Society data found that for young people being in full-time employment, or gaining employment, was strongly linked to then obtaining a driving licence. Stable employment across multiple years was a strong determinant of becoming a car driver. Forming a partnership was also positively associated with being a car driver. However, young people living with their parents were no less likely to be car drivers than people living alone or sharing with other adults. This analysis, combined with what is known about socio-demographic trends, provides strong evidence to support the hypothesis that the fall in Generation X’s and subsequent cohorts’ car use relative to previous cohorts has been influenced by a long-term increase in the age at which people typically start working, begin relationships and have children. We discuss whether this is likely to persist for future generations of young adults and what it means for young adults as they move into their thirties and forties.