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Why Millennials Drive Less: Many Possibilities, Few Answers

Millennials are less likely to get driver's licenses, they tend to take fewer, shorter car trips, and they use alternative modes of transportation more than their predecessors. The question for the ages is why.
October 15, 2014, 11am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Elvert Barnes

Emily Badger follows up on the growing body of evidence that Millennials are driving less to ask why that is. For instance: "Are millennial driving habits a byproduct of the weak economy? (If you have no job to go to, chances are you drive less.) Or do they signal deep and permanent shifts in the American relationship to automobiles?"

These questions are the subject of a report by U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the Frontier Group released on October 14, 2014, titled "Millennials in Motion: Changing Travel Habits of Young Americans and the Implications for Public Policy."

After acknowledging that these questions won't be answered for at least several years, Badger explains that the report finds that "the case is growing stronger for a major and lasting change in how today's youngest would-be drivers — and those to follow them — use cars." Moreover, the study argues that "it's time to rethink how we subsidize, encourage and invest in car use."

The article goes on to break down the technology argument (i.e., "maybe they simply chose not to [to drive], precisely because they now have more and better alternatives"), the economy argument (i.e., "long-term socioeonomic shifts underway that will likely continue to affect car use even after the economy fully recovers")., and the cultural argument (i.e., "the underlying cultural preferences of millennials are changing).

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Published on Tuesday, October 14, 2014 in The Washington Post - Wonkblog
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