individual preferences and lifestyles on young adults’ travel behavior in California.
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individual preferences and lifestyles on young adults’ travel behavior in California.

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  • Abstract:
    Young adults (“millennials”, or members of “Generation Y”) are increasingly reported to have

    different lifestyles and travel behavior from previous generations at the same stage in life. They

    postpone the time at which they obtain a driver’s license, often choose not to own a car, drive

    less if they own one, and use alternative non-motorized means of transportation more often.

    Several explanations have been proposed to explain the behaviors of millennials, including their

    preference for urban locations closer to the vibrant parts of a city, changes in household

    composition, and the substitution of travel for work and socializing with telecommuting and

    social media. However, research in this area has been limited by a lack of comprehensive data

    on the factors affecting millennials’ residential location and travel choices (e.g. information

    about individual attitudes, lifestyles and adoption of shared mobility is not available in the U.S.

    National Household Travel Survey and most regional household travel surveys).

    Improving the understanding of the factors and circumstances behind millennials’ mobility is of

    the utmost importance for scientific research and planning processes. Millennials make up a

    substantial portion of the population, and their travel and consumer behavior will have large

    effects on the future demand for travel and goods. Further, millennials are often early adopters

    of new trends and technologies; therefore, improving the understanding of millennials’ choices

    will increase the ability to understand and predict future trends at large.

    This study builds on a large research effort launched by the National Center for Sustainable

    Transportation to investigate the emerging transportation trends and the impacts of the

    adoption of new transportation technologies in California, particularly among the younger cohorts, i.e. millennials and the members of the preceding Generation X. During the previous

    stages of the research, we designed a detailed online survey that we administered in fall 2015

    to a sample of 2400 residents of California, including millennials (young adults, 18-34 in 2015)

    and Gen Xers (35-50 year-old adults). We used a quota sampling approach to recruit

    respondents from each age group (young millennials, older millennials, young Gen Xers, and

    older Gen Xers) across all combinations of major geographic region of California and

    neighborhood type (urban, suburban, and rural).

    The result is the California Millennials Dataset, a comprehensive dataset that contains

    information on the respondents’ personal attitudes; lifestyles; adoption of online social media

    and use of information and communication technology (ICT) devices and services; residential location and living arrangements; commuting and other travel patterns; auto ownership;

    awareness, adoption and frequency of use of various shared mobility services; major life events

    in the past three years; expectations for future events; propensity to purchase and use a private

    vehicle vs. to use other means of travel; political ideas, and sociodemographic traits.

    This report summarizes the analyses of the residential location, travel behavior and vehicle

    ownership of millennials and Gen Xers. In this stage of the research, we augmented the

    California Millennials Dataset with additional variables measuring land use and built

    environment characteristics from other sources including the U.S. Environmental Protection

    Agency’s Smart Location Dataset, and the walkscore, bikescore and transitscore from the

    commercial website We weighted the data to correct the distribution of cases

    in the sample, and to reduce the non-representativeness of the data, based on the region of

    California where the respondents live, the neighborhood type, the age group, gender, student

    and employment status, household income, race and ethnicity, and presence of children in the


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