Car ownership among young adults: Generational and period-specific perspective

Piyushimita Thakuriah, Shashi Menchu, Lei Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


An individual-level mixed longitudinal data set with three separate cohorts representing three generations in U.S. society is used to examine how car ownership trends have changed among young adults (18 to 24 years of age) over a 40-year period, from the mid-1960s to the mid-2000s. A multi-level, mixed model for binary car-ownership outcomes was estimated by using maximum likelihood. After controlling for factors relating to sociodemographics, personal life, location, and labor market, individuals in the past generation considered (who were young adults in the late 1990s and early 2000s) were found to be significantly more likely to enter the car market at an earlier age. In contrast to earlier generations, by the time individuals in the last generation cleared the 18- to 24-year window, they were found to have reached car ownership levels that had been predicted by earlier studies to be the saturation levels of car ownership in a society. Minorities made greater progress in rates of car ownership between the late 1960s and the early 1980s compared with nonminorities; however, increases in the rates of car ownership slowed for minorities in the most recent generation. Young adults in urban areas led those in rural areas in the earlier generations on car ownership rates but fell behind their rural counterparts in the last generation considered. Across all three generations, vehicle ownership was lower among the unemployed compared with the employed. The differential between employed and unemployed increased with each successive generation and was almost 30% in the last generation considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number2156
StatePublished - Jan 12 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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