Interactions Between Residential Relocations, Life Course Events, and Daily Commuting Distances

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - mass transit, planning - surveys, ridership - commuting, ridership - mode choice


Work trips, Trip length, Travel surveys, Travel patterns, Travel distance, Travel behavior, Transit, Residential location, Relocation, Public transit, Place of residence, Mode choice, Modal choice, Mobility, Mass transit, Local transit, Linear regression analysis, Linear regression, Life events, Journey to work, Income, Choice of transportation, Behavior modification, Accessibility


This paper presents results from a project investigating interdependencies among residential changes, other life course events, and transport. The main goal is to identify specific relocations and other key events during a person’s life with a significant impact on changes in travel behavior. With the theoretical background of the mobility biographies approach—assuming that travel behavior is mainly habitual—the paper attempts to deliver a basis for potential soft policy intervention measures to change daily travel behavior toward a more sustainable mobility. The empirical basis is the German Socio-Economic Panel. By analyzing longitudinal data, it is possible to allocate different key events during the life course to change a person’s mobility behavior. Because total distances traveled are partly based on daily commute distances, changes in the journey-to-work distance were used to indicate changes in travel behavior. Results of a linear regression model for change in commute distance show a significant influence from the previous home-to-work distance or other travel patterns such as mode choice and accessibility of public transport. Besides sociodemographic factors like income, the importance of life course events such as specific relocations and professional changes can also be documented. Spatial structure of the destination (regional core versus noncore, specific type of neighborhood or house) also has a significant impact on commute distances.