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Department of Spatial Planning

Key Events – Travel Behaviour Changes over the Life Course: The Role of Biographical and Accessibility-Related Key Events

The mobility biography approach in transport studies investigates the stability and variability of mobility over an individual's life course. The term 'mobility' is used deliberately here to include realised travel behaviour and the availability of mobility tools, such as cars and public transport season tickets. Key events over the life course play a central role for mobility biographies. They may be assigned to three life domains (or 'partial biographies'): household and family biography, employment biography, and residential biography. What is more, mobility biographies are closely connected to changes in the spatial and transport system context in which a person lives.

The project aims to extend existing research on mobility biographies with respect to seven key empirical issues. Doing so, it also contributes to the further theoretical and methodological development of this approach.

(1)       The role of interactions between different life course-related key events,

(2)       the role of group-specific differences in the effects of key events on mobility,

(3)       effects of parental mobility on their children's mobility (socialisation),

(4)       interactions between two partners in a household in the effects of key events on mobility,

(5)       sequential structures between key events and changes in mobility, including lagged and lead effects,

(6)       the modelling of cohort effects and period effects,

(7)       the use of the nation-wide representative sample of the German Mobility Panel. Most research in the field to date is based on small regional samples with limited representativeness.

(8)       A closely related project governed by the University of the West of England is in the stage of review at the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) at the time of writing. In case of approval of this project, additional benefit will be achieved by undertaking comparative analysis with the UK data. However, the success of the project proposed here will be warranted even without approval of the UK project.

The project was executed at the transport research group, Department of Spatial Planning. The project is a cooperation with Prof. Kiron Chatterjee, Centre for Transport and Society, University of the West of England, Bristol, by organising workshops / sharing workshop contributions and regular interactions.


Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)

Project number: HO 3262/8-1

Project partner

Fachgebiet Verkehrswesen und Verkehrsplanung (Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christian Holz-Rau, Prof. Dr. Joachim Scheiner)

Centre for Transport and Society, University of the West of England, Bristol, Prof. Dr. Kiron Chatterjee (

Project start and end

May 2015 to January 2020


Prof. Dr. Joachim Scheiner, joachim.scheinertu-dortmundde, Tel.: ++49 (0)231 755-4822




Scheiner, Joachim / Holz-Rau, Christian (2020): Gendered car allocation in couples sharing a car: A life course approach. In: Scheiner, Joachim / Rau, Henrike (eds): Mobility and Travel Behaviour Across the Life Course. Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. S. 133-151.

Scheiner, Joachim / Rau, Henrike (2020): Mobility and Travel Behaviour Across the Life Course. Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar

Scheiner, Joachim (2020): Changes in travel mode use over the life course with partner interactions in couple households. In: Transportation Research Part A 132, 791-807. DOI 10.1016/j.tra.2019.12.031

Scheiner, Joachim (2020): Couples, the car, and the gendering of the life course. What ordinary trip diary data from the past may tell us about smart mobilities in the future. In: Uteng, Tanu Priya / Christensen, Hilda Rømer / Levin, Lena (eds): Gendering Smart Mobilities. Abingdon: Routledge. S. 28-56.

Scheiner, Joachim (2018): Why is there change in travel behaviour? In search of a theoretical framework for mobility biographies. In: Erdkunde 72(1), 41-62.

Scheiner, Joachim (2018): Transport costs seen through the lens of residential self-selection and mobility biographies. In: Transport Policy 65, 126-136.

Scheiner, Joachim (2017): Mobility biographies and mobility socialisation – new approaches to an old research field. In: Zhang, Junyi (ed.): Life‐oriented Behavioral Research for Urban Policy. Tokyo: Springer Japan. S. 385-401.

Scheiner, Joachim (2016): Time use and the life course: a study of key events in the lives of men and women using panel data. In: European Journal of Transport and Infrastructure Research 16(4), S. 638-660.

Scheiner, Joachim / Chatterjee, Kiron / Heinen, Eva (2016): Key events and multimodality: a life course approach. In: Transportation Research A 91, 148-165.

Chatterjee, Kiron / Scheiner, Joachim (2015): Understanding changing travel behaviour over the life course: Contributions from biographical research. A resource paper for the Workshop “Life-Oriented Approach for Transportation Studies”. Presented at IATBR (14th International Conference on Travel Behaviour Research), Windsor, UK, 19-23 July 2015.

Scheiner, Joachim (2014): The gendered complexity of daily life: effects of life-course events on changes in activity entropy and tour complexity over time. In: Travel Behaviour & Society 1(3), S. 91-105.

Scheiner, Joachim (2014): Gendered key events in the life course: effects on changes in travel mode choice over time. In: Journal of Transport Geography 37, S. 47-60.

Scheiner, Joachim (2014): Residential self-selection in travel behaviour: towards an integration into mobility biographies. In: Journal of Transport and Land Use 7(3), 15-29.