FIGURE 2-1 Motor vehicle fleets in relation to income, selected countries, 1970 and 1996. NOTE: Per capita gross domestic product (GDP) is transformed to dollars using market exchange rates (see footnote 2). SOURCES: Motorization data: International Road Federation (2001 and earlier); other data: World Bank (2001 and earlier).

national level, income alone typically explains more than 90 percent of the variation in motorization levels, and at the urban level more than 80 percent. The growth of national motor vehicle fleets parallels that of income: a 1 percent increase in income is associated with a 1 percent increase in motor vehicles, and this relationship has been relatively stable for the past 30 years.

The relation between motorization and income between 1970 and 1996 is summarized in Figure 2-1, which shows data for a sample of 50 countries, with seven countries identified.2 Both per capita income and motorization levels vary over a nearly thousand-fold range, as shown by the logarithmic scales used. For each country in Figure 2-1 (and in Figures 2-2 and 2-3 later in this chapter) a line segment connects the country’s position in 1970 with its position in 1996—the most recent year with comparable data across countries. By means of darker lines and end points, Figure 2-1 specifically identifies China and six other countries. Motorization increased in all countries from 1970 to 1996, but incomes did not. Downward sloping lines denote sampled countries (such as Nigeria, Rwanda, and Côte d’Ivoire) where incomes declined. A mostly parallel


In all figures the GDP per capita, used to measure income or economic activity in this chapter, is transformed into dollars using market exchange rates because vehicles are traded goods, and the market exchange rate GDP measures the ability of an economy to purchase traded goods. The countries and data are in the appendix to this chapter.

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