Young people and driving licences: who hasn’t got one (yet) and why?

By Lucas Haldimann, Hannah Juby, Becky Warner

Le permis de conduire chez les jeunes : qui ne le passe pas (encore) et pourquoi ?

Much more than a simple official document, the driving licence represents a set of rules, the right to drive legally, and also a rite of passage associated with the transition to adulthood. However, with fewer young people now possessing a driving licence, something that had become an almost obligatory part of growing up now seems to have lost its appeal. Based on a large-scale survey (more than 40,000 respondents) carried out in Switzerland, this paper addresses the factors involved in decisions among young people to get a driving licence (or not) and identifies the effects of gender, socio-professional status, spatial context, national origin and psychological aspects. It also analyses the reasons for not having a driving licence (lack of need, cost, lack of time and environmental concerns) and their prevalence among the various categories of young people. Overall, the decline in youth licensing observed in recent decades appears to be more a case of delaying the process of getting a driving licence than renouncing it completely, given that only a small minority of young people do not plan to get one in the future. This delay may indicate the resilience of the system of automobility (since people live without a driving licence for only a limited time before becoming motorised) but it could also point to aspirations, priorities and representations which, while they don’t favour the use of a car, cannot change its status as a principal—and even essential—mode of transport.

  • driving licence
  • car
  • system of automobility
  • youth
  • mobility
Go to the article on