Does Commuting Cause Stress? The Public Health Implications of Traffic Congestion
19 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2013
Date Written: August 2, 2013
This paper explores the association between work trips and stress experienced by workers. The negative impact of commuting, such as deaths and injuries resulting from collisions, and illnesses caused by environmental pollution, are known and documented. We explore the correlation between workers’ self-reported levels of stress and the quality of their commutes. Using data from a recent survey of North American workers we find that frequency of traffic congestion, the satisfaction with, and the duration of, the commute impact stress levels. Workers who experience traffic congestion for more than three times a week report significantly higher levels of stress than those subject to infrequent congestion. Similarly, those with longer commutes report higher levels of stress than those with shorter commutes. More importantly, those who are satisfied with their commutes are the least likely to be stressed. While those who commuted by either transit or car reported similar stress levels, however commuters relying on both transit and car reported significantly higher levels of stress. Also, female workers reported higher levels of stress than males. We estimated ordered probit models to capture workers’ reported levels of stress.
Keywords: urban transportation, transport planning, stress, mental health, work force, work life balance
JEL Classification: R41, I18, J61, J44
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