Women more stressed by commuting than men

Pressure of balancing childcare with travel

Women experience more stress as a result of their daily commute than men, according to new research.

While women spend less time travelling to and at work than men, commuting is detrimental to women's mental health while men are generally not affected, according to researchers from the London School of Economics and the University of Sheffield.

The study's authors suggest that this could be because women have more responsibility for household tasks such as childcare and housework. The largest adverse effects were reported by women who have pre-school age children. The psychological impact on these women was four times as large as for men with children of this age. However, women in relationships but with no children were also affected. The only women unaffected by commuting were those who were single with no children or who were able to work flexible hours or whose partners were mainly responsible for childcare.

The only men who suffered stress from their commute were those with pre-school age children – and even then the effect was smaller than for women in relationships but without children.

Jennifer Roberts, professor of economics at the University of Sheffield, said: "We know that women, especially those with children, are more likely to add daily errands to their commute such as food shopping and dropping-off and picking-up children from childcare. These time-constraints and the reduced flexibility that comes with them make commuting stressful in a way that it wouldn't be otherwise."

The researchers based their findings on data from the British Household Panel Survey, an annual questionnaire of a sample of households from across the UK. This includes information on employment, social and economic factors and mental health.

The research was published in the Journal of Health Economics,

In the latest absence management survey carried out by the Confederation of British Industry, 15% of employers in the manual sector and 17% in the non-manual cited caring for children and dependants as a top three driver of absence.



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