Women’s complex daily lives: a gendered look at trip chaining and activity pattern entropy in Germany

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It has long been argued in feminist studies that women’s daily lives are more complex than men’s. This is largely due to the gendered division of work, according to which women juggle more varied obligations, including employment, household work and caregiving. Complex activity patterns in turn encourage women to organise their trips in a more efficient manner in trip chains. This paper studies the complexity of activity patterns (measured by Shannon entropy) and trip chaining patterns from a gender specific perspective. The data used is the German Mobility Panel 1994–2012 which records respondents’ trips over the period of a week. The outcome variables are regressed on sociodemographics, residential and workplace spatial context attributes, cohort and period effects. Gender differences in the effects of variables are tested using interaction terms. The results suggest that women’s patterns are more complex than men’s. Some effects differed distinctly between men and women, suggesting that men and women are differently affected by circumstances impacting the complexity of their lives, most notably by having children and by having a partner.

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  1. 1.

    A new time use survey was carried out in Germany in 2012/2013, but the data are not yet available.

  2. 2.

    These two types are mostly named work and non-work trip chains in the literature. However, the term 'non-work' masks that this type of trip chain includes much unpaid work, such as shopping, errands, and escort trips.

  3. 3.

    The GMP is conducted by the University of Karlsruhe on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS). The data are provided for research use by the Clearingstelle Verkehr (

  4. 4.

    Models including age plus age squared, but excluding cohort, were run for comparison. These models turned out to be virtually identical to those including cohort.


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This research was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) as part of the project ‘Alltag im Wandel des Geschlechterverhältnisses: Aktivitäten, Wege, Verkehrsmittel und Zeitverwendung’ (Everyday life in the context of changing gender relations: activities, trips, travel modes and time use, 2009–2015).

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Correspondence to Joachim Scheiner.

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Scheiner, J., Holz-Rau, C. Women’s complex daily lives: a gendered look at trip chaining and activity pattern entropy in Germany. Transportation 44, 117–138 (2017) doi:10.1007/s11116-015-9627-9

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  • Activity pattern
  • Gender
  • Trip chain
  • Tour complexity
  • Travel behaviour
  • Entropy