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“I want complete freedom”: car use and everyday mobility among the newly retired
Linköping University, NISAL - National Institute for the Study of Ageing and Later Life. Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI), Linköping, Sweden.
Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI), Linköping, Sweden.
Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, NISAL - National Institute for the Study of Ageing and Later Life.
Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, NISAL - National Institute for the Study of Ageing and Later Life.
2015 (English)In: European Transport Research Review, ISSN 1867-0717, E-ISSN 1866-8887, Vol. 7, no 4Article in journal (Refereed) PublishedText
Abstract [en]


To investigate car use among newly retired people, to explore to what extent car transport is used for everyday mobility and how it is valued in comparison to other transport modes.


The data consists of travel diaries and qualitative interviews with 24 individuals, aged between 61 and 67, living in a middle-sized Swedish city. They were recruited via the local branch of one of the main associations of pensioners, one large employer in the municipality, and through another study. The informants filled in a travel diary during 1 week that were analysed by VISUAL- TimePAcTS, an application for visualising and exploring activity diary data. The semi-structured qualitative interviews were analysed using a qualitative content analysis.


The car was used for several trips daily and often for short trips. The informants had a lot of everyday projects that they would not be able to perform if they did not have access to a car. The importance of the car does not seem to have changed upon retirement, albeit it is partly used for other reasons than before. The informant’s social context implies new space-time constraints. Commitments to family members, engagement in associations and spouses’ occupations affect how much and when they use the car, and their overall mobility.


In contrast to much research on older people’s mobility that has studied slightly older people, this study have focused on a specific group that are relatively healthy, well-off, and have the possibility to choose between different modes of transport. By combining travel diaries and qualitative interviews, we have explored how newly retired people reason as regard their travel behaviour but also how they actually travel. Although the car was used more than other transport modes, being able to walk and cycle now that they had more time as retirees was highly valued. Our results indicate that urban residents that are retiring now and in the future are a key target group in transport planning when it comes to reduce car use in favour of slow modes of transport.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Berlin/Heidelberg, 2015. Vol. 7, no 4
Keyword [en]
Car use; Mobility; Retirement; Older people; Space-time restrictions
National Category
Transport Systems and Logistics Other Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-124660DOI: 10.1007/s12544-015-0180-6ISI: 000369916800001OAI: diva2:901857

Funding agencies:  Vinnova-Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems; Vinnova

Available from: 2016-02-09 Created: 2016-02-09 Last updated: 2016-03-08
In thesis
1. Everyday Mobility and Travel Activities during the first years of Retirement
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Everyday Mobility and Travel Activities during the first years of Retirement
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Vardagsmobilitet och resande under de första åren som pensionär
Abstract [en]

Mobility is central to living an independent life, to participating in society, and  to maintaining well-being in later life. The point of departure in this thesis is that retirement implies changes in time-space use and interruption in routines, which influence demands and preconditions for mobility in different ways. The aim of this thesis is to explore mobility strategies and changes in mobility upon retirement and how mobility develops during the first years of retirement. A further aim is to provide knowledge of the extent to which newly retired people maintain a desired mobility based on their needs and preconditions. The thesis is empirically based on travel diaries kept by newly retired people, and qualitative interviews with the same persons, and follow-up interviews three and a half years later. The results show that mobility is a way of forming a structure in the new everyday life as retirees by getting out of the house, either just for a walk or to do errands.  Many  patterns  of everyday life remain the same upon retirement, but the informants also merge new responsibilities and seek new social arenas and activities. As a result, the importance of   the car have not changed, but it is used for other reasons than before. After leaving paid work, new space-time constraints are created which influences demands for mobility. The study further shows that “third places” become important, especially among those who live alone, as they give an opportunity to being part of a social context and a reason for getting out of the house. The follow-up interviews revealed that declining health changes the preconditions for mobility. Daily walks had to be made shorter, and the car had to be used for most errands to where they previously could walk or cycle. However, mobility can also be maintained despite a serious illness and a long period of rehabilitation.

Abstract [sv]

Mobilitet är en förutsättning för oberoende, delaktighet och välbefinnande när man åldras. Utgångspunkten i avhandlingen är att pensioneringen innebär tidsrumsliga förändringar och brott i rutiner som på olika sätt påverkar människors behov av att resa och deras förutsättningar för mobilitet. Syftet med avhandlingen är att utforska mobilitetsstrategier och förändringar i mobilitet i samband med pensioneringen samt hur mobiliteten utvecklas under de första åren som pensionär. Ambitionen är att öka kunskapen om i vilken utsträckning nya pensionärer upprätthåller en önskad mobilitet utifrån deras egna behov och förutsättningar. Avhandlingen baseras empiriskt på resedagböcker som nyblivna pensionärer har fört och kvalitativa intervjuer med samma personer, samt uppföljningsintervjuer tre och ett halvt år senare. Resultaten visar att mobiliteten är en strategi för att skapa en struktur i vardagen som pensionär genom att komma hemifrån, t.ex. för att ta en promenad eller för att uträtta ärenden. Många vardagsmönster behålls vid pensioneringen men informanterna finner också nya åtaganden och söker nya sociala arenor och aktiviteter. Betydelsen av bilen har inte förändrats men den används av andra anledningar än tidigare. Vid pensioneringen skapas andra tidsrumsliga begränsningar vilka inverkar på efterfrågan på mobilitet. Resultaten visa också att "tredje platser" blir viktiga, särskilt bland dem som lever ensamma, eftersom de ger en möjlighet att vara en del av ett socialt sammanhang och en anledning att komma hemifrån. Uppföljningsintervjuerna visade att förutsättningarna för mobilitet förändras när hälsan försämras. Promenaderna blir kortare och bilen används i högre utsträckning för de ärenden dit de tidigare kunde gå eller cykla. Men trots allvarliga sjukdomar och långa perioder av rehabilitering kan mobiliteten upprätthållas. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2016. 99 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 671
Ageing, retirement, mobility, travel activities, place, time-geography, interviews, travel diaries, qualitative longitudinal analysis, åldrande, pensionering, mobilitet, resande, aktivitet, plats, tidsgeografi, intervjuer, resdagböcker, kvalitativ longitudinell analys
National Category
Sociology Other Social Sciences
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-124664 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-124664 (DOI)978-91-7685-829-5 (Print) (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-03-11, K1, Kåkenhus, Campus Norrköping, Norrköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2016-02-09 Created: 2016-02-09 Last updated: 2016-02-17Bibliographically approved

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