Commuting time negatively affects the labor supply of married women

Commuting time negatively affects the labor supply of married women. This is the main conclusion of the paper “Commuting time and the gender gap in labor market participation”, published in the Journal of Economic Geography by our researchers Lídia Farré and Jordi Jofré, and Juan Torrecillas, who recently completed the PhD in Economics at UB. The authors estimate that a 10-minute increase in commuting time decreases the probability of married women to participate in the labor market by 4.4 percentage points.

Using microdata from the US census for the last two decades, the paper shows that commuting time negatively affects the labor supply of women while it has a small and insignificant effect on that of men.

The authors do not find evidence that difference in labor market productivity within couples account for the gender asymmetric effect of commuting time. In contrast, the study shows that the negative effect on women increases with the number of children and is larger among immigrants originating from countries with more gendered social norms.

Based on this evidence, the authors conclude that in the context of increasing commuting costs, the presence of gender norms that attribute to women the role of main caregivers within the family may prevent gender convergence.

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