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July 2019 - How is car ownership (or 'motorisation') evolving among Brussels households?

Brussels Institute for Statistics and Analysis (BISA) - In the Spotlight - Car ownership among households (share of households with at least one car)

In the Brussels-Capital region, one in every two households (55%) has a car. How has this phenomenon evolved in the past years?
 

A steady decline has been observed since the early 2000s

Figure 1. Car ownership among households (share of households with at least one car), moving average over three successive years taken from the Household Budget Survey between 2000 and 2016
 

Source: Statbel (HBS), BISA calculations
 

Following a peak in 2003, households in Brussels are less and less likely to have a car. From 66% of households owning a car in 2003, the share has fallen to 55% in 2014.

This downward trend is mainly explained by:

  • a general reduction of the purchasing power affecting the population of Brussels since the early 2000s1, whereas the share of the budget allocated to housing is significant and remains incompressible in Brussels2;
  • automotive modes of transport are losing their appeal in the Brussels-Capital Region:
    • Cars and their place in the public space are increasingly being questioned. This is reflected particularly through a reduction of the part of public roads available to cars, both for driving and for parking3.
    • Road congestion is increasing, both within the Region and on its outskirts4.
       
  • a change of attitudes towards cars, in particular among the younger generations.

 

A significant decline among the young

The biggest decline is seen among the younger generations: car ownership among households for which the reference person is aged between 18 and 30 has fallen from 69% (years 2000-2003) to 36% (years 2012, 2014, 2016). This phenomenon is consistent with the fact that people in Brussels wait longer before obtaining their driving license5.

On average, by raising the age at which people learn how to drive, there will be fewer and fewer cars in the future6. From this perspective, the decline noted among younger Brussels inhabitants certainly heralds a broader generational decline in the long term.
 

Definitions and source

In this issue of “À la Une”, car ownership is used to describe the ownership, by households, of private cars. A household is described as having ownership of a car, or being “motorised”, if it has a private car; this includes a company car that can be used for private travel.

The data used to measure the level of car ownership of Brussels households comes from the Household Budget Survey (HBS).

 

A moving average to smooth out the variability of the survey

The indicators derived from the survey data have some degree of variability relating to the sampling procedure: the larger the sample, the more stable the indicator, and inversely. In the case of the HBS, the annual Brussels sample is small, and the values therefore show some volatility from one year to the next.

To limit this volatility, the samples from several successive years have been combined to increase the sample size. On this graph, each point of the curve shows the average over three successive years7. Thus, the value for 2001 reflects the average for the years 2000, 2001 and 2002, and so on until 2014. This is referred to as a moving average because the subset of values used to calculate the average (3 years) varies for each observation (each successive year). This artificial value better reflects the car ownership trend among households.

 

 For further information

Read the BISA Focus No. 32 - Brussels' households and the car - providing an analysis of the characteristics of Brussels households with, or without, a car.

Find all the figures relating to the car ownership among households under the Mobility and Transport theme on the BISA website.

 


[1] The actual primary income per inhabitant has lost 10 points between 2000 and 2016 according to the HERMREG model.
[2] On average, this share reached 39% in 2016, according to Statbel (https://statbel.fgov.be/fr/nouvelles/un-tiers-de-nos-depenses-consacre-au-logement).
[3] BRANDELEER C., ERMANS T., HUBERT M., JANSSENS I., LANNOY P., LOIR C., VANDERSTRAETEN P., 2016. Le partage de l’espace public en Région de Bruxelles-Capitale. Bruxelles : Bruxelles Mobilité. Cahiers de l’Observatoire de la Mobilité de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale, n°5. Available at this address: https://mobilite-mobiliteit.brussels/sites/default/files/le_partage_de_lespace_public.pdf
[4] LEBRUN K., HUBERT M., HUYNEN P., DE WITTE A.., MACHARIS C., 2013. Les pratiques de déplacement à Bruxelles. Cahiers de l’observatoire de la mobilité de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale. Bruxelles : Bruxelles Mobilité. Cahiers de l’Observatoire de la Mobilité de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale, n°2. Available at this address: https://mobilite-mobiliteit.brussels/sites/default/files/cahiers_mobilite-2_.pdf
[5] BISA, 2016. Young people less and less interested in getting a driving licence?  Brussels: BISA. In the Spotlight.
[6] DEMOLI Y., 2017. Prendre ou laisser le volant. L’enracinement social de la pratique de la conduite automobile. Recherche Transports Sécurité, vol. 2017, n° 01‑02, pp. 83‑101.
[7] After 2010, the HBS started collecting data biannually.