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A new cause of divorce: commuting long distances to work?

A new cause of divorce: commuting long distances to work?

The Department of Social and Economic Geography of Umeå University in Sweden recently published a research paper called “On the road: Social aspects of commuting long distances to work” by Erika Sandow as part of her doctoral dissertation.

Ms. Sandow holds a Masters degree in Public Administration and Environmental Studies with a major in Social and Economic Geography. 

Divorce is one of the social costs of long-distance work commutes

The paper states that commuting long-distances to work has caused more spouses to separate and divorce.  In Sweden, approximately 11% of the Swedish workforce is long-distance commuters.  The paper explains that the social costs of lengthy commuting include unfinished household responsibilities, lack of time to socialize with family and friends, and reduced leisure activities.

Moreover, a long commute may cause stress and health problems.  Spouses are then forced to manage these social consequences.

Ms. Sandow used a longitudinal data set to measure the risk of divorcing or separating.  Long-distance commuting was defined as 30 kilometres or longer each way.  In total, 2.1 million spouses were analysed over a ten-year period from 1995 to 2005.  

The results demonstrated a clear correlation between long-distance commuting and family breakdown.  Annual separation rates were higher among commuting couples than non-commuting couples.

The results indicate that couples who live a more modern lifestyle and have abandoned the more traditional gender roles are more capable of handling the social consequences of long-distance commuting and have successfully balanced work and family life.

So it would seem that commuting to work is bad for our environment, bad for our health and now bad for our marriage.

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