Exploring the effects of car ownership and commuting on subjective well-being: a nationwide questionnaire study

Z. Gan, T. Feng, Min Yang (Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
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How and to what extent household car ownership and commuting behavior affect individual subjective well-being (SWB) is of great interest for urban and transportation planning. Increasing attention has been paid to the associations between car ownership, commuting and SWB. However, only a limited number of studies examined the effects of travel-related factors on both cognitive and affective SWB aspects. This research empirically investigated the relationships from the two SWB aspects. Furthermore, we extend the modeling of generic cognitive SWB to several specific measures (e.g., satisfaction with life compared to a specific group of people, degree of free choice, social position, and social equality) to explore how car ownership and commuting behavior contribute to individual SWB. Drawing on the data derived from the 2014 China Labor-Force Dynamics Survey, a set of ordered probit models based on Bayesian inference are estimated. The findings point out that household car ownership has a significant effect on cognitive SWB but a limited influence on affective SWB. It appears that commuting time is significantly and negatively associated with individuals’ cognitive and affective well-being, whereas a positive correlation is found between the commuting by bicycle and affective SWB. The effects of commuting time and transportation modes on different measured satisfactions with life have no big differences. Finally, results of the Wald tests indicate that incorporating household car ownership and commuting behavior into the modeling framework can significantly improve the prediction accuracy of individual SWB.
Original languageEnglish
Article number84
Number of pages20
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • life satisfaction
  • negative emotions
  • ordered probit model
  • commuting
  • China
  • Negative emotions
  • Commuting
  • Ordered probit model
  • Life satisfaction


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