From University to Working Life: Effects of an Important Biographic Change on Travel Mode Choice

From University to Working Life: Effects of an Important Biographic Change on Travel Mode Choice


S Harms, M Lanzendorf, Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, DE


580 university graduates have been analysed with respect to travel mode changes after having started working life. The analysis of underlying driving factors for behaviour change may give hints for designing more efficient transport policies.


Travel mode choice of individuals and households has, for a long time, been analysed in terms of short-term rational decision making. However, many of our daily mobility activities can be considered as based on non-reflected automated decision making taking place in stable context conditions. Significant biographic changes, however, may weaken such decision routines and initiate new conscious reflection: A person?s mobility needs, opportunities and/or abilities may change such that new behavioural options have to be sought. One of such biographic changes of interest is the transition from university to working life. Under new time constraints, different normative requirements or higher financial resources, mobility behaviour may be subject to significant change. We analysed travel mode choices of 580 university graduates of different disciplines having left university one to three years before our investigation. Using a standardised written questionnaire format, a pre-post behaviour analysis revealed different occupational transition paths and concomitant drivers for mobility behaviour change in a more automobile-dominated or more environmentally friendly direction. Intra-individually, based on attitudinal and behavioural variables we identified different ?mobility types? who responded differently to this change moment. Inter-individually, social norms in the new working environment proved to be an important factor for behaviour change. With respect to the outer mobility environment, spatial factors such as changed commuting distance or public transport quality turned out to be significant. The knowledge of such internal and external driving factors for behaviour change in biographic change moments may be an important source for more efficient policy design. While spatial factors may give hints to improvements in hardware design, attitudinal and normative issues may be integrated in target-group specific marketing campaigns. The additional value of the use of such measures in biographic change moments in comparison to their use in stable biographic contexts will be discussed.


Association for European Transport