Chart of the Day: Vehicle Miles Traveled vs. Change in Wealth Per Capita (Selected Countries)

Here’s a chart that compares how much people drive to how wealthy they become, across a bunch of countries including Japan, Australia, and some of Europe’s larger nations. As you can see, the US is a bit higher than the rest:

annual VMT driving chart international

The chart comes from a study that compares rates of driving and preferences in London and Berlin. Here’s the conclusion from Citylab:

Until then, the unfortunate reality is that the car remains an ever-present pillar of society, our cities, and our daily lives. Even in big, dense European cities, the car is still cemented as the dominant and preferred mode of transportation, making it all the more difficult to shift toward alternate modes of transit. If this transition seems challenging in places like Berlin and London, just imagine the challenges facing smaller cities across Europe and the United States.


Kind of interesting to page through. The conventional wisdom I’ve always heard is that wealthier people in other countries have cars at almost the same rates as Americans, they simply don’t drive them as much because of other cost and convenience factors.

Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.