Peak Car?: Drivers of  the recent decline in Swedish car use

Anne Bastian

It has long been well-known that economic variables such as GDP and fuel price as well as socio-demographic characteristics and spatial distribution are key factors explaining car use trends. However, due to the recently observed plateau of total car travel in many high income countries, it has been argued that other factors, such as changes in preferences, attitudes and life-styles, have become more important drivers of car use.  This paper shows that the two variables GDP per capita and fuel price explain most of the aggregate trends in car distances driven per adult in Sweden: as much as 80% over the years 2002 to 2012. The estimated elasticities are well in line with previous literature and can reasonably well reproduce the trend in car distances driven per adult back to 1980. We find, however, a substantial variation in elasticities between municipalities depending on public transport supply, population density, share of foreign-born inhabitants and the average income level.

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