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NCST Research Report: What Affects Millennials' Mobility? PART II: The Impact of Residential Location, Individual Preferences and Lifestyle on Young Adults' Travel Behavior in California

UCD-ITS-RR-17-05

Research Report

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Suggested Citation:
Circella, Giovanni, Farzad Alemi, Kate Tiedeman, Rosaria M. Berliner, Yongsung Lee, Lewis Fulton, Patricia L. Mokhtarian, Susan L. Handy (2017) NCST Research Report: What Affects Millennials' Mobility? PART II: The Impact of Residential Location, Individual Preferences and Lifestyle on Young Adults' Travel Behavior in California. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-17-05

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).