Peak Car in Sweden?

Sammanfattning: 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 in 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 thesis 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. Swedish National Travel Survey data from 1978 to 2011 reveals that reductions in per adult driving mainly occurred among urban men. Urban men of all income groups reduced their driving for both commuting and non-commuting trips in conjunction with rising gasoline prices, which may have contributed to this development. We find that driving among those socio-demographic groups, who have better opportunities to reduce their driving, and driving for discretionary rather than commute purposes is being reduced over time. Sweden is ranked among the most gender-equal countries in the world; yet we find a substantial remaining gender gap in the share of adults driving a car on an average day, even when controlling for other socio-economic differences.