How commuting influences subjective wellbeing

Publication type

Conference Paper


Kiron Chatterjee

Publication date


It has been found that satisfaction with the journey to work varies according to its duration and the transport mode used but the consequences of commuting for overall life satisfaction and other measures of subjective wellbeing (SWB) are unclear. According to economic theory, the adverse impact of long commutes should be compensated for by the benefits they bring. The paper begins by examining the association using a six wave panel data set of English workers, drawn from Understanding Society (n~26,000). It is found that longer commute durations are associated with lower SWB, after allowing for compensatory effects of increased income and improved employment situations. This result is robust to different regression model specifications. The focus of the paper then turns to understanding the dynamic effects of changes to commuting behaviour. It is examined if there is evidence of wave to wave changes in SWB occurring in conjunction with changing commute duration or mode. It is shown that changes to SWB depend on contextual conditions and other changes occurring to life circumstances. It is also shown that long run effects on SWB are different to short run effects. Implications of the results for transport, health and employment policies are discussed.


Psychology, Labour Market, Economics, Well Being, Commuting and Travel