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Activity patterns, time use, and travel of millennials: a generation in transition?

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Millennials, defined in this study as those born between 1979 and 2000, became the largest population segment in the United States in 2015. Compared to recent previous generations, they have been found to travel less, own fewer cars, have lower driver’s licensure rates, and use alternative modes more. But to what extent will these differences in behaviour persist as millennials move through various phases of the lifecycle? To address this question, this paper presents the results of a longitudinal analysis of the 2003–2013 American Time Use Survey data series. In early adulthood, younger millennials (born 1988–1994) are found to spend significantly more time in-home than older millennials (born 1979–1985), which indicates that there are substantial differences in activity-time use patterns across generations in early adulthood. Older millennials are, however, showing activity-time use patterns similar to their prior generation counterparts as they age, although some differences – particularly in time spent as a car driver – persist. Millennials appear to exhibit a lag in adopting the activity patterns of predecessor generations due to delayed lifecycle milestones (e.g. completing their education, getting jobs, marrying, and having children) and lingering effects of the economic recession, suggesting that travel demand will resume growth in the future.
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Keywords: Millennials; activity-time use patterns; age effects; cohort analysis; lifecycle stages; longitudinal analysis; travel behaviour; trend analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA 2: Department of Planning, Development, and Preservation, Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA 3: Department of City and Regional Planning, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

Publication date: September 2, 2016

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