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Analysing mobility biographies with the life course calendar: A retrospective survey methodology for longitudinal data collection

: Schoenduwe, Robert; Mueller, Michel G.; Peters, Anja; Lanzendorf, Martin


Journal of transport geography 42 (2015), S.98-109
ISSN: 0966-6923
Fraunhofer ISI ()
mobility biography; travel behaviour; life course approach; life course calendar; survey methods

Transportation research is in need of longitudinal data to better understand travel behaviour. This paper describes a new survey method to collect longitudinal data, called the life course calendar. We discuss the need for and the uses of this instrument with reference to specific case study material and explore to what extent the life course calendar is suitable for the study of individual life courses and travel behaviour. In the first part of this article we give an overview of current research on the causal relationships between certain life events and travel behaviour. Based on the outcomes of the literature review we analyse life course calendars of 646 respondents. Considering the explorative character of our case study material the results are quite promising. Most notably information on car purchases, on relocations, and changes of the work place has been well recorded which indicates that the life course calendar is suited for the study of changes of spatial contexts and accessibility. The data analysis has provided initial results on the distribution of key events over the life course and on the relation of such events to changes in travel behaviour. Significant effects were found for key events such as relocation, change of job, birth of first child, separation/divorce, moving in with partner and retirement. The life course calendar can be advantageous, especially if it is employed to supplement extensive panel studies.