How owning a car impacts on our life opportunities

Nearly a third of the population do not have their own car and a new study has revealed the negative effect this can have on people’s employment opportunities, access to services and social lives over time.

The research from Nat Cen and the University of Bristol, "Access to Transport and Life Opportunities" made use of data from Understanding Society. The report highlights the risk of economic and social exclusion for those with no personal access to cars. Not having personal access to a car is more common amongst young adults, those in BME groups, those with mobility impairments, unemployed people and those with low incomes.

Key findings

• Longitudinal analysis showed that having continued car access makes it 2.2 times more likely that someone unemployed will have moved into employment two years later, compared to not having car access.
• Having continued car access is associated with a 25% increase in personal income over a two-year period, compared to not having car access.
• For people with mobility issues, or who live in rural areas, personal car access is particularly important for maintaining social networks.
• Amongst the older population aged 50 and over, having personal car access as a driver makes people less likely to report feeling lonely.

The authors of the report said, “Longitudinal data like this enables stronger evidence to be obtained of causal relationships between access to transport and life opportunities compared with cross-sectional data sets like the National Travel Survey (NTS)… It is especially attractive that longitudinal data sets are available for such an analysis, as they offer the prospect of more credible assessments of causality.”

Read the full report