U.S. Millennials, Like Previous Generations, Drive a Lot

Despite a dip in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 2009, Americans continue to drive more and farther, despite some mistaken assumptions about Millennial travel behavior.
April 3, 2019, 5am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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There has been a lot of hope in some circles that American Millennials would drive less than generations past, according to a study paper the National Bureau of Economic Research. That isn’t happening. “Controlling for factors like marriage and living in city, it finds that Americans born between 1980 and 1984 are just as likely to own cars compared to, say, their parents’ cohort,” Laura Bliss writes for CityLab.

Looking at the raw aggregate numbers, some might argue that Millennials drive less, but when you compare similar groups of Millennials and Baby Boomers, that story doesn’t hold up. “An uncontrolled comparison suggests that Millennials are traveling less than their predecessors were by the same age. But, when factors like educational attainment, marital status, number of children, and whether they’ve settled in a city are factored in, it turns out [Millennials] actually rack up slightly more VMT than Baby Boomers did,” Bliss reports.

It is true that Millennials are more concerned about environmental issues. "But, the authors of the NBER paper write, Millennials '…operate under many of the same constraints as prior generations'—that is, with spread-out cities, a lack of transit service, lengthy commutes, and a broad social expectation that a car is how you get from A to B," Bliss writes.

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Published on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in CityLab
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