Everyday Mobility Behaviour of Migrants – an Unknown Factor in Transport Planning?

Everyday Mobility Behaviour of Migrants – an Unknown Factor in Transport Planning?


Janina Welsch, ILS – Institut Für Landes- Und Stadtentwicklungsforschung GGmbH, Kerstin Conrad, ILS – Institut Für Landes- Und Stadtentwicklungsforschung GGmbH, Dr. Dirk Wittowsky, ILS – Institut Für Landes- Und Stadtentwi


As there is little knowledge about the mobility behaviour of migrants it is an important research question to find out, if and how mobility behaviour differs from the one of the non-migrant population. Such information is needed to find out whether transport demand forecasts and transport planning are able to meet the needs of all inhabitants. The presented project provides a starting point for this discussion, describing differences in mobility behaviour and main influencing factors as well as implications for the local authorities and transport planning.


In many European cities migrants and their descendants represent a considerable part of the population and due to socio-demographic changes they will increase in the next decades. Findings from studies in the US context suggest that the daily mobility behaviour of migrant is initially different when they come from their home country but in the course of time they adapt the average mobility behaviour. Is this also true for Germany? In Germany exist different migration patterns as well as different spatial structures, and alternatives to the motorized car are provided.

In general, there is a good data basis for transport planners in Germany. Several representative national transport surveys are conducted but in contrast to other countries they do not include any information about ethnic backgrounds or foreign nationalities. Therefore, no profound knowledge is available about variations in mobility behaviour, mobility options and needs of migrants. In the light of the expected growth of the migrant population differences in transport behaviour could affect demand forecasts in transport planning.

Starting to fill these research gaps, ILS conducted a study in the city of Offenbach am Main. In total, nearly 2,000 people were interviewed. Special considerations were put into the questions to measure the migration background and everyday mobility behaviour. The survey also provides first insights into special recruiting and response characteristics.

Descriptive analyses were conducted, for example regarding driving license ownership, general usage of different transport modes or modal choices for different purposes. The presentation will discuss main results, which show some interesting variations between migrants and non-migrants. Furthermore, binary logistic regression models show the effect of different socio-demographic factors, mobility indicators and spatial structure on the general car and public transport use of the participants. Factors like income or household composition show similar effects on transport use of migrants and non-migrants. In contrast, spatial factors vary between the groups such as living in a densely populated area. Furthermore, belonging to the first or the second generations of migrants makes a difference in transport use.

Transport planning is based on demand forecasts. It is therefore of great importance to identify the mobility behaviour of all population groups. This could increase the risk of inaccurate transport planning decisions and therefore of possible social exclusion. Local authorities should also be aware of the aspect that migrants possibly need additional assistance and further services to use all mobility options. For example, they could offer bicycle training courses for migrant women. Nevertheless, just as other population groups, migrants profit of a sustainable, barrier-free and intermodal transport system.


Association for European Transport