Social Geographer Erika Sandow, based at Umea University in Sweden, has mapped long-distance commuting in Sweden and examined its impacts on income and relationships. The study, entitled 'On the road: Social aspects of commuting long distances to work' was published on Thursday, and based on statistical data gathered between 1995 and 2000 from 2 million Swedes who were either married or co-habiting.
The findings show that although income and careers benefit from commuting, social costs are incurred.
11% of Swedes have a journey to work consisting of a 45-minute commute, or longer. The risk of divorce is 40% higher among long-distance commuters than among other people. This risk is at it's highest in the first 5 years of commuting. With time, according to Sandow, most of these families manage to adapt to the situation and experience makes it easier to create strategies for making things work.
Many commuters have small children and are in a relationship. Most of them are men. According to Sandow: "One of the long-term risks with commuting is that it can sustain gender-based stereotypes both at home, and in the labour market." In families where the man commutes, the woman is often forced to take a less qualified job closer to home, or to start working part-time, so that they can drop off and pick up the kids at daycare and school. This means les money as well as a larger share of the responsibility for kids and household.
In families where the woman commutes, earlier studies have shown that they experience more stress, and feel less successful career-wise than commuting men.
So what lies ahead for commuters and their families? According to Sandow, "The trend is definitely pointing upward. Both the journey to work and the working hours are getting longer. We don't know what long-distance commuting will lead to in the long run, and what price we'll have pay for economic growth. It's important to highlight the social consequences that commuting entials. For instance, how are children affected by growing up with one or both parents commuting long distances to work?"
This article was written by Valerie Redmond, co-founder of RWorks, teleworker management software in the cloud.
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| Swedish Study Shows 40% Higher Risk of Divorce with 45 minute Commute to Work
Written by RWorks
Monday, 30 May 2011 11:09