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Residential Location Choice and Travel Behavior of Young adults: Coming-to-the-city and Multimodality

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posted on 01.05.2020, 00:00 by Jaeyong Shin
Young adults have received increasing attention since the late 2000s due to their different residential choice and travel behavior when compared to prior generations and older cohorts. Young adults drove fewer miles, owned fewer cars, and used non-automobile modes (public transit, walk, or bicycle modes) at a higher rate. Further, young adults showed a higher preference for living in cities. A higher proportion of young adults lived in central areas in cities in the 2010s than the 2000s and as compared to other age groups. This dissertation examines these two choice behaviors of young adults to fill gaps in literature through three independent research. The first research examines residential location trends of young adults and older adults in the most populous 50 U.S. cities and important factors in their decisions. The second research examines differences in residential location choice within young adults using national-level longitudinal data. Last, the research examines the relationship between location choice and travel behavior using travel survey data in the Seattle metropolitan area. The main findings from the dissertation can be summarized as follows: 1) Young adults have come to U.S. cities since 2000 and at higher rate since 2010, while older age groups have left cities. Urban industry (especially high-income jobs), transportation, and amenities are important factors in the location preference of young adults. 2) There is also a diversity in residential location preference within the young adult cohort that depends on their lifecycle stage and socio-demographic characteristics as well as a period (the 2000s vs. 2010s). 3) There are complex relationships between being a young adult, location choice, and travel behavior. One of the findings is that being a young adult has no direct effects on mode choice and travel distance. Its effects are only indirect through the residential location and auto ownership decisions. Taken together, these findings suggest that if conditions in cities don’t change in ways that make them attractive to the life cycle of young adults, it is very likely that their behaviors will become like that of prior generations —suburbs, more cars, and more driving. Young adults, however, are showing interests in living in cities, it is a role of planners and policy makers to encourage them to stay as they age and to attract even more of them.



Tilahun, Nebiyou


Tilahun, Nebiyou


Urban Planning and Public Affairs

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level


Degree name

PhD, Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Member

Kawamura, Kazuya Smith, Janet Lowe, Kate Zou, Bo

Submitted date

May 2020

Thesis type




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