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Kaid Benfield’s Blog

"Your commute is killing you"

Kaid Benfield

Posted June 3, 2011

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  evening commute in Phoenix (by: Octavio Heredia, creative commons license)

So says the headline to a provocative article in Slate by Annie Lowrey.  Among the tidbits in her article:

  • Swedish research:  Couples in which one partner commutes for longer than 45 minutes are 40 percent likelier to divorce.
  • Texas:  Out of 19 typical daily activities, respondents ranked commuting dead last for enjoyment.
  • Gallup:  40 percent of employees who spend more than 90 minutes getting home from work "experienced worry for much of the previous day."  
  • That number falls to 28 percent for those with "negligible" commutes of 10 minutes or less.  
  • Gallup:  One in three workers with a 90-minute daily commute has recurrent neck or back problems.
  • Brown University:  A worker with a negligible commute and a 12-hour workday is healthier than one with an hour-long commute and a 10-hour workday, even though total time consumption is the same.
  • UCLA & Cal State-Long Beach:  Vehicle-miles traveled had a stronger correlation with obesity than any other lifestyle factor.
  • US Census:  Average one-way commuting time has steadily crept up over the course of the past five decades, and now sits at 24 minutes (although we routinely under-report the time it really takes us to get to work). About one in six workers commutes for more than 45 minutes, each way.  
  • US Census:  About 3.5 million Americans commute a whopping 90 minutes each way; their number has doubled since 1990. 

Read the article in its entirety here.

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Kaid Benfield writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment.  For more posts, see his blog's home page

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Kirsten SuhrJun 3 2011 09:58 AM

Are all the numbers (like 90 minutes) for one-way?

I'm considering giving up my lovely 20 minute commute (from an urban basement apartment) for an hour commute (bigger apartment, with outdoor space, with lower rent). This is definitely making me rethink the plan... I wish there was a magic formula that could tell me which would make me happier. :)

Tony ChaviraJun 3 2011 08:37 PM

Interesting article.

Just to drill in the point, I'm not sure if you're aware of the study but a few years back researchers at the University of Sheffield Department of Economics published an article that essentially stated that commuting had an especially detrimental effect on the psychological well-being of women. I found it interesting because it controlled for forms of compensation, including income, job satisfaction and housing quality. It seems that, no matter the compensation, participants figured that no commute was worth the frustration.

Here's a link to the abstract:

DarrylJun 4 2011 09:50 PM

I drive 45 min to work, listening to something i enjoy on XM radio. This makes my commute laughable. Thanks to OPIE AND ANTHONY and of coarse the Little JIMMY NORTON. yeahhhhh

MattJun 8 2011 07:00 AM

Facinating stats!

and of course reducing commuting is huge for reducing pollution.

The Future is Local!!

2 posts may be of interest:

1. The Solution to Pollution

2. Green and Happy:

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