Honey, Can You Pick-up Groceries on Your Way Home? Analyzing Activities and Travel in Non-traditional Households

Except for walks in the park and cruising on a Saturday night, travel is a means to an end. Economists describe the demand for travel as "derived" because people travel in order to access other things--work, shops, restaurants, friends, and so on. Transportation is often a critical link to education, paid work, recreation, health care, culture, and many other aspects of quality living. While conventional measures like person-miles of travel (PMT) are excellent measures of mobility, they do not tell us much about access, or the utility of personal travel. To examine travel utility or access, one's attention must turn to activity participation--the taking of trips for various purposes. Trip-making is an excellent, albeit indirect and understudied window on activity participation. People's work habits, shopping behavior, recreational preferences, and so on are revealed by the stated purpose of their travel in surveys like the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), as well as in activity surveys such as the American Time Use Survey (ATUS). This project proposes to examine how activity participation differs by household type. This is increasingly relevant as the share of two-sex, married couple households with children continue to decline, while what has been (increasingly misleadingly termed) "non-traditional" households continues to grow. How members of this new majority of non-traditional households divide labor, organize activities, and travel about is of critical importance to transportation officials charged with planning for the next generation of travel. In particular, the project will aim to add to the existing knowledge of the ways in which sex and gender roles influence activity patterns in households. Numerous scholars have investigated the important differences between men and women in travel and particular outcomes such as employment (e.g. Hanson and Pratt 1991; Hanson and Pratt 1995; McGuckin and Murakami 1999; Blumenberg 2004; Crane 2007), though none have taken a comprehensive look at gender and activity participation more broadly. Further, few researchers have considered the ways in which gender and sexuality may intersect to influence within-household activity allocation (cf. Rapino and Cooke 2011, who use same-sex partnered households as a counterfactual). A deeper understanding of how gender and household arrangements--including same-sex partnerships, opposite-sex partnerships, roommates, and other arrangements--influence activity and travel patterns may shed light on the mechanisms behind the gendered differences in travel. For instance, the research team expects that the study will suggest whether it is in fact sex in a broad societal context that drives the differences, or rather sex in a very specific context: that of the opposite-sex partnered household--the explicit or implicit subject of most prior studies. The project proposes to examine activity participation by sex and household type using two datasets. The first will be the confidential, geo-coded version 2009 NHTS, which will allow the project to examine the connection between gender, household structure, and outside-the-home activity participation, as well as the availability and utilization of transportation resources of individuals in the household. The strength of this dataset is its ability to provide valuable information on specific transportation variables such as details on the vehicles owned by a household. However, a significant weakness of this dataset is the lack of within-household activity participation information, such as household chores and in-home childcare activities. In order to understand how gender, sexuality, and household structure influence both within-household and out-of-the-home activity patterns, the project will also attempt to employ the American Time Use Survey, a detailed activity survey conducted in conjunction with the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Population Survey. From this research, the project expect to produce two academic papers--first, one that focuses on automobile usage and activity participation in various household types, with a particular emphasis on the differences between same-sex partnered and opposite-sex partnered women. The second paper will examine the trade-offs between within-household and out-of-the-home activities, again with a special focus on the differences between women in same-sex and opposite-sex partnered households. Finally, the project will produce a report for the University of California Transportation Center summarizing the findings from these two analyses.


    • English


    • Status: Completed
    • Funding: $71561
    • Contract Numbers:


    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Research and Innovative Technology Administration

      University Transportation Centers Program
      1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
      Washington, DC  United States  20590
    • Performing Organizations:

      University of California, Los Angeles

      Los Angeles, CA  United States 
    • Principal Investigators:

      Taylor, Brian

    • Start Date: 20130101
    • Expected Completion Date: 0
    • Actual Completion Date: 20140101
    • Source Data: RiP Project 33507

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01471026
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: University of California Transportation Center
    • Contract Numbers: 7870
    • Files: UTC, RIP
    • Created Date: Jan 31 2013 1:01AM