Does urban living influence baby boomers’ travel behavior?

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, planning - surveys, ridership - mode choice


Baby boomers, Travel behavior, Self-selection, Propensity score matching


We compare the travel behavior of urban versus suburban baby boomers in the Boston metropolitan area. Using propensity score matching to attempt to control for self-selection and data from two surveys implemented in 2008 and 2010, we find that the urban boomers tend to be less automobile-dependent than suburban baby boomers. Urban baby boomers also make more recreational non-motorized transport (NMT), social, utilitarian, and transit commute trips. Most of these differences seem to be primarily a result of the urban setting, not the particular preferences of boomers living in urban settings. We find very small self-selection effects on automobile commuting, recreational NMT, and utilitarian trips: 1–7% of observed influence. We also find some evidence that baby boomers’ preference for social activities tends to be mismatched to their environments – suburban boomers want more social opportunities than their settings enable. For public transport, we find a relatively large self-selection effect, 43% of observed influence, suggesting a transit-oriented boomer market segment exists.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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