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Drivers of Car Ownership in a Car-Oriented City: A Mixed-Method Study

Jukka Heinonen (), Michał Czepkiewicz (), Áróra Árnadóttir () and Juudit Ottelin ()
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Jukka Heinonen: Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Iceland, 107 Reykjavik, Iceland
Michał Czepkiewicz: Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Iceland, 107 Reykjavik, Iceland
Áróra Árnadóttir: Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Iceland, 107 Reykjavik, Iceland
Juudit Ottelin: Department of Built Environment, Aalto University, 00076 Aalto, Finland

Sustainability, 2021, vol. 13, issue 2, 1-26

Abstract: This paper presents a mixed-method analysis of car ownership in Reykjavik, Iceland, a location with a high motorization level and deeply rooted car culture. We utilize qualitative interviews to understand vehicle possession reasons and elaborate the study with statistical analysis using a softGIS survey dataset with characteristics of the respondents and their residential location. We focus on adults aged 25 to 40, who are suggested to be less car-oriented than older generations. We also describe the historic development of Reykjavik’s car culture to give a perspective for the findings. We show that even among the studied age group, car ownership is still seen as a social norm, with few even seeing it possible to live without a car, and the public transport system is seen as giving a poverty stigma. However, we still find an increasing share of car-free households towards the city center. Still, the built environment impact is limited to the city center, which has a higher proportion of small adult-only households residing in shared apartments than other areas. Moreover, there seems to be a three-fold connection between having a child, acquiring a car (if not already possessed), and choosing a suburban residential location. Some indications of residential self-selection related to car ownership were found, but pro-car attitudes and residential location independently influenced car ownership. This study helps to understand the reasons for high car dominance and supports designing policies to reduce car-dependency, not just in Reykjavik but also elsewhere.

Keywords: car ownership; car-oriented mobility culture; transit-oriented development (TOD); built environment; residential self-selection; mixed-method study (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O13 Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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