Trends and determinants of the mobility of older adults in the USA and Germany, 2001–2017

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftForschungsartikelBeigetragenBegutachtung



Using the 2001 and 2017 National Household Travel Surveys (NHTS) for the USA and the 2002 and 2017 Mobility in Germany Surveys (MiD) for Germany, this paper examines differences between the two countries in the travel behavior of older adults and to what extent it has changed between 2001/2002 and 2017. We use five mobility indicators to portray the travel behavior of older adults: whether or not a trip is made at all on the survey day (i.e., mobile or not); number of trips per day for mobile individuals; km of travel per day for mobile individuals; modal distribution of trips; and trip purpose. In analyzing the travel behavior of older adults, we grouped them into 5-year age categories: from 60–64, 65–69, 70–74, 75–79, and then 80+ years. In addition to a descriptive, graphical analysis, we employ multi-level multiple regression analysis to examine factors that may affect the mobility of older adults. Mobility levels generally declined with increasing age in both countries in both years, but the declines were gradual, except for a steep drop for the 80+ age group. Mobility levels in 2001 were generally higher for all age groups in the USA than in Germany, especially for older adults. By 2017, however, the gap between the two countries diminished because mobility increased more for all age groups in Germany than in the USA from 2001/2002 to 2017. Indeed, Germans of all age groups in 2017 were more likely than Americans to make at least one trip during their travel day. The largest increases in mobility in both countries were for the oldest age categories (75–79 and 80+). From 2002 to 2017, the share of car trips among older adults in Germany rose considerably, while it fell slightly in the USA from 2001 to 2017. Nevertheless, car dependence among the oldest adults in 2017 was still twice as high in the USA as in Germany. One reason for Germany's lower modal share of driving is that the transport system in Germany offers far more attractive alternatives to car use than in the USA, while policies at every government level make car ownership, parking and use more expensive and more difficult than in the USA.


FachzeitschriftTransportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - Mai 2024

Externe IDs

ORCID /0000-0001-7857-3077/work/161406354



  • Germany, Mobility, National travel surveys 2001 and 2017, Older adults, Travel behavior, USA