Publication Detail

What Drives Millennials: A Comparison of Vehicle Miles Traveled Between Millennials and Generation X in California


Research Report

Suggested Citation:
Tiedeman, Kate, Giovanni Circella, Farzad Alemi, Rosaria M. Berliner (2017) What Drives Millennials: A Comparison of Vehicle Miles Traveled Between Millennials and Generation X in California. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-17-55

Young adult travel in the United States is changing. Millennials, who make up a substantial part of the U.S. population, are found to own fewer cars per capita and travel by non-motorized modes more often than previous generations at the same stage in life. This study builds on an investigation of millennials and older adults’ travel behavior in California. As part of the study, the authors administered a survey to millennials and members of Generation X who live in California. They model the self-reported vehicle miles traveled (VMT) of the members of the two generations and investigate the impact of several groups of explanatory variables including individual and household sociodemographic characteristics and land use features of the respondent’s residential neighborhood, such as population density, land use mix, and design. The authors also explore the impacts of non-traditional explanatory variables such as the frequency of use of new shared mobility services. The model results confirm that millennials travel less than members of Generation X, even after controlling for the effects of sociodemographic traits and variables related to the stage in life, such as age and income. Larger heterogeneity is found in millennials’ VMT, probably due to the impact of additional factors that cannot be fully captured by controlling for the impact of built environment variables and sociodemographic variables. This research contributes to improving the understanding of the travel behavior of millennials, who represent an influential demographic group for future passenger travel.
Presented at Transportation Research Board 96th Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, January 8-12, 2017