Intra-household Bargaining for School Trip Accompaniment of Children: A Group Decision Approach

Recently published:


• The significance of model misspecification is underscored in terms of policy outcomes.
• Children aged 12–18 are more dominant than 6–12 years on their travel decision.
• In 63% of the cases the unitary household model underestimates the results.
• Results of models differ in both magnitude and sign of coefficients in some cases.


This paper tests a group decision-making model to examine the school travel behavior of students 6–18 years old in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan area. The school trip information of 1737 two-parent families with a student is extracted from Travel Behavior Inventory data collected by the Metropolitan Council between the Fall 2010 and Spring 2012. The model has four distinct characteristics including: (1) considering the student explicitly in the model, (2) allowing for bargaining or negotiation within households, (3) quantifying the intra-household interaction among family members, and (4) determining the decision weight function for household members. This framework also covers a household with three members, namely, a father, a mother, and a student, and unlike other studies it is not limited to dual-worker families. To test the hypotheses we build two models, each with and without the group-decision approach. The models are separately built for different age groups, namely students 6–12 and 12–18 years old. This study considers a wide range of variables such as work status of parents, age and gender of students, mode of travel, and distance to school. The findings of this study demonstrate that the elasticities of the two modeling approaches differ not only in the value, but in the sign in some cases. In 63% of the cases the unitary household model underestimates the results. More precisely, the elasticities of the unitary household model are as much as 2 times more than that of the group-decision model in 20% of cases. This is a direct consequence of model misspecification that misleads both long- and short-term policies where the intra-household bargaining and interaction is overlooked in travel behavior models.