The Economic Perspective: “Millennials and Cars”

This is Mary Walden with economist MW, welcoming you to the economic perspective.   Today’s program looks at millennials and cars.  Mike, if you look around you see many young people biking, riding scooters, and using ridesharing.  These activities have led many to conclude that young adults today have moved away from vehicle ownership.  Is this an accurate conclusion, or are there other factors at work?

Mike:  Summary Answer

  1. The question is whether young adults – millennials – have preferences for transportation modes other than vehicles, or if there are other underlying factors motivating them away from cars
  2. New research from the NBER suggests it is other factors
  3. Compared to the previous generation (Gen X), millennials are less likely to have children or to have smaller families, to not be married, and to have lower incomes
  4. Each of these factors would be negatively related to vehicle ownership
  5. Interesting, millennials do not seem to be more “green” than Gen X, so this is not a factor in the vehicle ownership decision
  6. Conclusion – millennials do own fewer vehicles, but it’s because of other factors

Mary:  And I’m Mary Walden for the Economic Perspective, an NC State Extension program from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.