Does Commuting Cause Stress? The Public Health Implications of Traffic Congestion

19 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2013

See all articles by Murtaza Haider

Murtaza Haider

Ryerson University

Kenneth Kerr

Ryerson University

Madhav Badami

McGill University

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

Suggested Citation

Haider, Murtaza and Kerr, Kenneth and Badami, Madhav, Does Commuting Cause Stress? The Public Health Implications of Traffic Congestion (August 2, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Murtaza Haider (Contact Author)

Ryerson University ( email )

Ryerson University
350 Victoria Street
Toronto, Ontario M5B 2K3
416-979-5000, x2480 (Phone)

Kenneth Kerr

Ryerson University ( email )

Ryerson University, 350 Victoria Street, Toronto
Toronto, Ontario M5B 2K3

Madhav Badami

McGill University ( email )

1001 Sherbrooke St. W
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1G5

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