How do constrained car ownership and car use influence travel and life satisfaction?

Shengxiao (Alex) Li, Xiaodong Guan*, Donggen Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Promoting subjective well-being is an important goal in urban policy. Transportation scholars increasingly evaluate transportation systems based on people's subjective well-being. This study joins this strand of efforts to answer the following research question: how do constrained car ownership and car use influence travel and life satisfaction? Empirical data were collected in Beijing where various policies had been implemented to curb the rapid growth of car ownership and mitigate traffic congestion. We answer the question by examining the effects of car ownership and car usage variables on travel and life satisfaction. Our study shows that owning multiple cars increases vehicle users’ life satisfaction, but owning a car is not related to increased life satisfaction. Purchasing a more expensive car and driving cars more frequently in daily life could not increase people's life satisfaction, but infrequent car use contributes to higher travel and life satisfaction. Among vehicle users, using cars to commute is related to higher travel satisfaction but not higher life satisfaction. In contrast, using cars for non-work trips is related to higher life satisfaction but not travel satisfaction. We also find that attitudes towards the instrumental and affective roles of cars are positively related to travel and life satisfaction among car owners. Results of this paper suggest the importance of promoting sustainable transportation and behavioral education in cities like Beijing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-218
Number of pages17
JournalTransportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Transportation
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Management Science and Operations Research

User-Defined Keywords

  • Car management
  • Car ownership
  • Car use
  • Life satisfaction
  • Subjective well-being
  • Travel satisfaction


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