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On the road : Social aspects of commuting long distances to work
2011 (English)Doktorsavhandling, sammanläggning (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

With its point of departure of increasing numbers of people being engaged in commuting, the aim of this thesis is to reveal prerequisites for and consequences of long-distance commuting in Sweden for the individual and his or her partner. Special attention has been given to prerequisites for long-distance commuting in sparsely populated areas, and to social consequences related to long-distance commuting in terms of gender differences in commuting patterns, earnings and separation. The thesis is based on four empirical studies, presented in different papers. Two studies draw on individual longitudinal register data on all Swedish long-distance commuters living with a partner. The other two focus on commuting behaviour in sparsely populated areas, one based on individual register data and the other on a survey.

Long-distance commuting (>30 kilometres) has become an increasingly common mobility strategy among Swedish workers and their households. Results from the thesis show that 11 percent of Swedish workers are long-distance commuters and about half of them live in a relationship. Among these couples many are families with children, indicating the importance of social ties in households’ decisions on where to work and live. Most long-distance commuters are men, and it is also likely that long-distance commuters have a high education level and are employed in the private sector. For the majority, long-distance commuting gives higher earnings; however, men benefit economically more than women do. As long-distance commuting reduces available family time, the non-commuting spouse often takes on a larger share of household commitments. The thesis shows that men’s long-distance commuting may therefore serve to reproduce and reinforce traditional gender roles on the labour market and within households. On the other hand, women’s long-distance commuting can lead to more equalitarian relationships on the labour market and within households. For the majority of couples it seems as if long-distance commuting becomes more than a temporary mobility strategy, while for some couples it does not work out very well. Separation rates are found to be higher among long-distance commuters compared to other couples; especially the first years of commuting seem to be the most challenging. It is suggested that coping strategies are important to make the consequences of long-distance commuting easier to handle and adjust to in the daily life puzzle. For those unable to handle these consequences, long-distance commuting is not a sustainable mobility strategy and can even end a relationship.

The extent of long-distance commuting is low in sparsely populated areas, and those who do long-distance commute are mainly men. Most people work and live within the same locality and do not accept longer commuting times than do those in densely populated areas. In this thesis it is argued that facilitating car commuting in the more sparsely populated areas of Sweden can be more economically and socially sustainable, for the individual commuters as well as for society, than encouraging commuting by public transportation.

Place, publisher, year, pages
Umeå: Kulturgeografiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, 2011. 55 p.
Series
GERUM, ISSN 1402-5205 ; 2011:2
Keyword [en]
Long-distance commuting, social aspects, households, gender differences, sparsely populated areas, longitudinal study, register data, Sweden
National Category
Social and Economic Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-43674 (URN)978-91-978344-6-9 (ISBN)oai:DiVA.org:umu-43674 (OAI)
Public defence
2011-05-27, Samhällsvetarhuset, Hörsal B, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from2011-05-06 Created:2011-05-05 Last updated:2011-05-30Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The persevering commuter
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The persevering commuter : Duration of long-distance commuting
2010 (English)In: Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, ISSN 0965-8564, Vol. 44, no 6, 433-445Artikel i tidskrift (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A growing number of people are long-distance commuters. For some long-distance commuting is a temporary solution, while as for others it can be a more long-term strategy to promote career and income. This study addresses duration of long-distance commuting – 30 km or more between home and work – in Sweden, and what characterizes individuals who commute for shorter or longer periods. The effects of long-distance commuting in terms of economic outcome for both partners in a commuter household are analysed. The study is based on register data for the years 1995–2005 covering all long-distance commuters in Sweden. One finding is that previous experience of long-distance commuting makes it more likely to have a long duration of long-distance commuting. In addition economic incentives, such as a higher income, are positively correlated for continuing to long-distance commuting more than a few years. Furthermore, the analysis shows that male commuters benefit more in terms of economic outcome of long-distance commuting. It is concluded that the trend with increasing long-distance commuting can sustain not only gender differences on the labour market but also within households. Finally, the paper indicates that long-distance commuting is a strategic mobility choice for households, rather than a short-term solution for a few years.

Elsevier, 2010
Keyword
Long-distance commuting; Duration; Economic outcome; Households; Sweden
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-34165 (URN)10.1016/j.tra.2010.03.017 (DOI)
Available from2010-05-18 Created:2010-05-18 Last updated:2011-05-05Bibliographically approved
2. Till work do us part
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Till work do us part : the social fallacy of long-distance commuting
2014 (English)In: Urban Studies, ISSN 0042-0980, E-ISSN 1360-063X, Vol. 51, no 3, , 55 p.526-543Artikel i tidskrift (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper focuses on the social implications of long-distance commuting on commuters and their spouses in Sweden. In a nation-wide study, the extent to which long-distance commuting increases the odds that couples will separate is investigated through event history analysis. Discrete-time logistic regression models were employed with longitudinal data on Swedish couples in 2000 to explore the odds of separation following long-distance commuting during 1995 to 2005. As expected, the results show that separation rates are higher among long-distance commuting couples compared with non-commuting couples. More complex results show that for men the odds of separating are highest if the commuting is on a temporary basis, and that women’s odds decrease when they continue commuting for a longer time-period. The long-distance commuting effect on relationships also varies depending on residential context.

55 p.
Keyword
long-distance commuting, social costs, household separations, longitudinal study, event history analysis
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-43463 (URN)10.1177/0042098013498280 (DOI)
Available from2011-05-02 Created:2011-05-02 Last updated:2014-02-21Bibliographically approved
3. Commuting behaviour in sparsely populated areas
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Commuting behaviour in sparsely populated areas : evidence from northern Sweden
2008 (English)In: Journal of Transport Geography, ISSN 0966-6923, Vol. 16, no 1, 14-27Artikel i tidskrift (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

From a Swedish regional development policy perspective, increased long-distance commuting is viewed as a means for creating larger local labour markets and thus stimulating regional economic growth. One of the prerequisites for such a development is that individuals are willing to commute longer distances. In the context of a relatively peripheral and sparsely populated area in northern Sweden, this paper aims to study commuting behaviour and factors influencing individuals’ propensities to commute longer distances. Using a longitudinal set of geo-referenced data, individuals’ commuting propensities were estimated in a binary logistic regression, and significant effects were found for a range of socio-economic and demographic factors. The results also show that the local labour market’s geographical structure is important. Overall, most individuals commute within their locality of residence and women commute shorter distances than men do – a pattern that has been relatively stable since the beginning of the 1990s. This article attempts to outline causes and effects of this commuting behaviour, which are important to understand in the development of regional development policies aimed at increasing geographical labour mobility.

Elsevier, 2008
Keyword
Commuting, Gender, Local labour markets, Sparsely populated, Sweden
National Category
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-7410 (URN)10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2007.04.004 (DOI)
Available from2008-01-09 Created:2008-01-09 Last updated:2013-08-16
4. Preferences for commuting in sparsely populated areas
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Preferences for commuting in sparsely populated areas
2010 (English)In: Journal of Transport and Land Use, ISSN 1938-7849, Vol. 2, no 3, 87-107Artikel i tidskrift (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In a time of decreased inclination to migrate and an increased place attachment, increasingcommuting can improve the functionality of local labor markets. In regional development policy in Sweden,facilitating increased commuting over larger geographical areas is therefore viewed as essential forenhancing the supply of competent labor in all parts of the country and decreasing spatial segmentation.Building on an analysis of data from a survey of Swedish residents’ commuting options and preferences,this paper focuses on commuting in a relatively sparsely populated and peripheral area in northern Sweden.Further, the question of whether increased commuting is socially sustainable from a commuter’sperspective is discussed. 􀄃e point of departure is that the individual and the individual’s context affectcommuting behavior through social norms, geographical structure and available infrastructure. Withrespect to travel patterns and mode choice, a gender perspective is included in the analyses. 􀄃e resultsshow that the geographic and socio-economic structure of the labor market place time restrictions onpeople’s commuting behavior and as a consequence people’s daily reach in sparsely populated areas isrestricted. Geographical structure, available infrastructure, and socio-economic factors (such as education,employment, and family situation) are also found to restrict women’s access to the local labormarket to a greater extent than men’s. Furthermore, the study shows that the inclination to commutedeclines rapidly when commuting times exceed 45 minutes, regardless of gender, transport mode, andsocio-economic factors. Considering distances and the provision of public transport in sparsely populatedareas, the car is valued as the most optimal mode of transport when commuting. If regional growthis to be promoted by facilitating commuting over longer distances, a higher level of car dependency mustbe accepted in sparsely populated areas.

The University of Minnesota, USA: JTLU, 2010
Keyword
Commuting; Travel time; Gender; Social sustainability; Regional development
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-33744 (URN)
Available from2010-05-05 Created:2010-05-05 Last updated:2011-05-05Bibliographically approved

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