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Causes of Youth Licensing Decline: A Synthesis of Evidence

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In recent decades, young adults in many developed nations have become increasingly less likely to acquire a driving license. If this trend continues it could have significant impacts on transport futures. Licensing reductions have only recently been identified and causes are only just being explored. This paper presents a first synthesis of available evidence including an assessment of more influential causal factors. It begins by documenting the declining trend evident in 9 of 14 documented countries; the average rate of decline is 0.6% per annum, with highest declines documented in Australia. A range of causal factors are documented from cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. Changes in life stage and living arrangements, changes in motoring affordability, location and transport, graduated driver licensing schemes, attitudinal influences and the role of e-communication are all explored. Evidence is in general weak and preliminary but suggests multiple causes rather than any single influence. However, of the evidence available life stage factors and affordability influences have stronger links to license decline but are only likely to have a low affect size.
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Keywords: demographic trends; driver licensing; generation Y; peak car; young adults

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Civil Engineering, Institute of Transport Studies, Monash University, Building 69 Clayton, Victoria, 3800, Australia

Publication date: May 1, 2013

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