Explaining the Evolution of Passenger Vehicle Miles Traveled in the United States

Resources for the Future Discussion Paper 16-38

45 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2016

See all articles by Benjamin Leard

Benjamin Leard

Resources for the Future

Joshua Linn

Resources for the Future

Clayton Munnings

Resources for the Future

Date Written: September 7, 2016

Abstract

After growing steadily for several decades, passenger vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the United States unexpectedly leveled off in the 2000s. The growth rate of VMT has since rebounded, and determining the factors that explain these developments has implications for future US oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. We show that changes in the demographic and economic characteristics of households in the United States, rather than changes in driving habits, explain most of the recent dynamics. These results suggest that over the next decade, VMT in the United States will continue to grow roughly at historical rates, causing substantially higher oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions than if persistent changes in household driving habits explained the recent changes in VMT.

Keywords: passenger vehicles, miles traveled, demographics, gasoline consumption, greenhouse gas emissions

JEL Classification: Q4, Q5, L62

Suggested Citation

Leard, Benjamin and Linn, Joshua and Munnings, Clayton, Explaining the Evolution of Passenger Vehicle Miles Traveled in the United States (September 7, 2016). Resources for the Future Discussion Paper 16-38, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2890616 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2890616

Benjamin Leard (Contact Author)

Resources for the Future ( email )

1616 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Joshua Linn

Resources for the Future ( email )

1616 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Clayton Munnings

Resources for the Future ( email )

1616 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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