This paper analyses aggregate time-series data to estimate the direct rebound effect in UK road freight over the period 1970–2014. We investigate 25 different model specifications, conduct a comprehensive set of diagnostic tests to evaluate the robustness of these specifications and estimate the rebound effect using three different elasticities. Using the mean of the statistically significant estimates from these specifications, we estimate a direct rebound effect of 61% – which is larger than previous estimates in the literature and almost twice as large as the consensus estimate of direct rebound effects in road passenger transport. Using the mean of the estimates from our most robust models, we estimate a slightly lower direct rebound effect of 49%. Our estimates are fairly consistent between different model specifications and different metrics, although individual estimates range from 21% to 137%. We also find that an increasing proportion of UK road freight is being undertaken by foreign registered vehicles, and that increases in the vehicle weight limits have encouraged more freight activity. We highlight the significant limitations imposed by the use of aggregate time series data and recommend that further studies in this area employ data from vehicle use surveys.
Find out more about our project on ‘Rebound effects in UK transport‘.