One might think that driving a car in Bangalore can easily become a nightmare, thanks to the traffic! But a recent study by a team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and M. S. Ramaiah Institute of Management, Bangalore have found that 62% of young adults in Bangalore aspire to own a car as soon as they can afford one. The team, lead by Prof. Ashish Verma from the Department of Civil Engineering, studied the attitudinal factors that influence car ownership decisions among urban young adults in a developing country like India.
India has the highest number of individuals in the age group of 10 – 24 years and it is expected that by 2021, the share of individuals in the age band of 15 – 34 years will be 464 million, making India the “youngest” country in the world. In this background, it is important to understand the aspirations of our youth and their attitudes towards various socio-economic aspects. This study is a reflection of the same and explores how our youth perceive owning a car and the factors that influence this decision.
The study was based on a survey of 646 university students in Bangalore from differentsocial, economical and educational backgrounds. The survey gathered the individuals’ perceptions about status, peer influence, transport policies, car ownership, etc., apart from the usual set of personal and household socio-demographic information. The researchers then applied a statistical model to analyze the results.
The study uncovered some interesting trends in a developing country like India as opposed to a developed country. Among the respondents of the survey, about 62% of the individuals replied that they would own a car as soon as they could afford one, in contrast to a declining trend among young adults wanting to own a car in a developed country. About 85% of respondents thought that they would be happier if they owned a car and above 60% of respondents agreed that driving a motorized two-wheeler or car to their college is something fashionable or attractive.
The results also showed some significant differences based on an individual’s socio-economical and educational backgrounds. About 71% of the individuals who are qualified at above post graduation level opine that they would buy a car very moment they can afford one, whereas only 49% of the individuals who are qualified below this level, responded that they would buy a car as and when they can afford one. It was also found that the respondents who have a car at home are more likely to buy a car.
However, the survey also found that many of the respondents think that an individual does not have to buy a car if he/she gets a job near home, if public transport is good, if bicycle infrastructure is good, and if car ownership and other taxes are high. “Based on exploratory and statistical analysis, improving comfortlevel of bus transport might help reduce car ownership among young adults. Also, it is observed from the results that those who arepro-sustainability and are well aware of the environmental issues are lesslikely to own a car in the future, so programs focused on youths bringingmore awareness about the sustainability issues may help reducing carownership levels in near future”, remarks Prof. Verma.
The researchers also compared the results of this study with a similar study conducted in Hong Kong. They observed that the overall satisfaction level of public transport in Bangalore appeared to be lower than that of Hong Kong and more students in Bangalore aspiredto buy a car in near future than their Hong Kong counterparts.Interestingly, female students are more likely to buy a car in Bangalore, whereas an opposite trend was observed in Hong Kong. The number of individuals, who opined that car ownership contributes to happiness, creates an image, and provides them importance in society, was found to be 40% higher when compared to the findings in Hong Kong. “The Hong-Kong based case study does not estimate a statistical model and hence, a direct comparison ofreasons is difficult at this point”, points Prof. Verma, when asked about the reasons behind this difference of opinions.
So who amongst us will own a car next? “Our analysis suggests that caravailability at home, and comfort-seeking attitudes have strongassociation with car ownership decisions”, signs off Prof. Verma.