Intra-household commuting choices and local labour markets

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

Oxford Economic Papers


Jennifer Roberts and Karl Taylor

Publication date


Commuting is the conduit between two markets: labour and housing. While the job search literature recognizes the importance of the spatial distribution of employment, local labour market conditions have been a notable omission from the commuting literature. In the first study of its kind, we introduce local labour market conditions into a model of spouses’ commuting behaviour in the UK. We find male commute times are more sensitive to local unemployment rates than women’s, although both effects are inelastic, and are of a similar magnitude to that of labour income. The more conducive the local labour market is to female employment opportunities, the less time women spend commuting. Local unemployment rates have heterogeneous effects on commuting, e.g. arising from mode of transport, job change, and homeownership. Furthermore, housing market rigidities lead to longer commuting times and thus increase the social costs that a more flexible housing market could alleviate.

Volume and page numbers

69, 734-757





Area Effects, Labour Market, Households, Unemployment and Commuting


Open Access; This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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