The role of childhood context and experience in shaping activity-travel choices in adulthood

Long, Kamryn V.
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There is a growing body of literature dedicated to understanding and characterizing the evolution of activity-travel choices over the life course. The life course approach to activity-travel analysis posits that the transitions in activity-travel choices, residential and work place location choices, and other consumption patterns can be traced to changes in socio-demographic characteristics, economic circumstances, and other events that take place over the course of a person’s life. At the same time, there is evidence that choices and behaviors in adulthood can be traced to experiences garnered by individuals in childhood. If it is indeed true that childhood experiences and parental influences affect choices and behaviors in adulthood, then it is important to design interventions, campaigns, and strategies that would provide the childhood experiences and context necessary to bring about sustainable mobility behaviors later in life. To what extent do experiences in childhood and parental influences shape mobility choices and behaviors in adulthood? This is the central question that this research seeks to answer through an analysis of a unique survey data set that includes variables describing a number of contextual factors from the individual’s childhood. The study presents a joint model of vehicle ownership and transit usage in adulthood as a function of childhood influences and experiences, while controlling for other socio-economic and demographic variables. Model estimation results are used to quantify the size of the childhood experience and parental influence effect for both vehicle ownership and frequency of transit use in adulthood