Are Young Americans Carless Across the United States? A Spatial Analysis

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment



First page number:


Last page number:



This study uses the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) data to investigate the most recent correlates of vehicle ownership among young Americans. This study performs a spatial analysis to examine the potentially non-stationary relationships between sociodemographic factors and vehicle ownership. Consistent with previous studies, modeling results from this study showed that young Americans are more likely to be carless than older adults. The spatial analysis answers the research question – in which regions(s) young Americans are even less likely to have a car. The results highlighted the Northeast states for the young American’s extra-lower vehicle ownership if the influences of all other factors are held constant. The cost of living and availability of transportation alternatives are possible reasons. Further, this study built separate models for young adults (25–34 years old) and three older age groups. The vehicle ownership correlates within the young adults are found to be generally consistent with the correlates among all adults. Among young adults, vehicle ownership is still significantly related to their gender, educational attainment, employment status, household characteristics, and travel demand. However, young adults’ vehicle ownership seems to be less sensitive to household income than mid-age adults’ (35–44 years old), perhaps because young people may not perceive financial stress such as child support and mortgage. This study contributes by using a spatial analysis approach to reveal the non-stationary correlates of vehicle ownership. This approach is useful for future travel behavior research and transportation policy considering the spatial heterogeneity.


Vehicle ownership; Young Americans; National household travel survey; Spatial analysis


Design of Experiments and Sample Surveys | Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Statistics and Probability



UNLV article access

Search your library