Every extra minute of commuting time reduces job satisfaction

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Woman sits on a trainAdding 20 minutes more commuting time each day has the same effect on job satisfaction as taking a 19% pay cut, according to a new study using data from Understanding Society.

The average commuting time per day in England has risen from 48 minutes to 60 minutes over the past 20 years, with one in seven commuters now spending at least two hours a day travelling to and from work.

Researchers from the University of the West of England examined the impacts of commuting to work on the wellbeing of more than 26,000 employees in England over a five year period.

The study revealed that, all else being equal, every extra minute of commuting time reduces job satisfaction and leisure time satisfaction, increases strain and worsens mental health.

Key findings

  • Those who walk or cycle to work do not report reductions in leisure time satisfaction in the same way as other commuters, even with the same duration of commute.
  • Bus commuters feel the negative impacts of longer commute times more strongly than users of other modes of transport.
  • Longer duration commutes by rail are associated with less strain than shorter commutes by rail.
  • Longer commute times reduce women’s job satisfaction more than that of men’s.

Principal Investigator, Dr Kiron Chatterjee, an Associate Professor in Travel Behaviour at UWE Bristol, said, “The findings indicate that longer journeys to work have adverse subjective wellbeing effects, particularly through loss of free time.

“On the other hand, longer commute times were not found to have a large impact on life satisfaction overall. This is because people take on longer commutes for good reasons relating to improving their employment, housing and family situations and these factors serve to increase life satisfaction. This does not mean that the negative wellbeing impacts of longer commutes can be disregarded. The acceptance that a long commute is a price to pay may only persist if it is considered unavoidable and a social norm.”

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the UWE Bristol study was undertaken to better understand the impact of commuting on people’s lives.

Read the full report

Kiron Chatterjee et al. The Commuting and Wellbeing study: understanding the impact of commuting on people’s lives. October 2017. UWE Bristol, UK.

NB Please note that this news article has been reposted from the Understanding Society website.