The disutility of commuting? The effect of gender and local labor markets

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

July 15, 2019


Standard economic theory postulates that commuting is a choice behavior undertaken when compensated through either lower rents or greater amenities in the housing market or through higher wages in the labor market. By exploiting exogenous shocks to commuting time, this paper investigates the impact on well-being of increased commuting. Ceteris paribus, exogenous increases in commuting time are expected to lower well-being. We find this holds for women but not men. This phenomenon can be explained, in part, by the different labor markets in which women operate. Where local labor markets are thin, women report significantly lower well-being when faced with an increased commute. This does not hold for tight local labor markets. Further our findings reveal that it is full-time working women in the managerial and professional tier of the occupational hierarchy who are most affected. These results suggest that the policy solution for reducing the adverse effects of commuting may require changes to labor market institutions rather than changes to transport policy.

Published in

Regional Science and Urban Economics

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 77 , p.264 -275






Under a Creative Commons license

Open Access



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