Social geographer Erika Sandow at Sweden’s Umea University has published her doctoral dissertation analysis of long-distance commutes and their impact on income and relationships in “On the road. Social aspects of commuting long distances to work.” In brief, her research found that a commute of greater than 30 kilometers (about 19 miles) typically has economic and career benefits (large paycheck, job advancement) but significantly increases the likelihood a person will divorce (40 percent), especially if the long-distance commuter is male.
The dissertation used data collected from more than two million Swedes during 1995 and 2005. The findings, although based on Swedish data, seem to be very applicable to other European and American countries.
From the university’s press release about Sandow’s dissertation:
… those who commute long distances gain access to a broader job market and often to greater career opportunities and better income development. But women and men benefit in different degrees, with income increasing more for long-distance commuting men. However, these commuters’ partners lose income, and since most long-distance commuters are men, this means that many women both take home less money and take on the responsibility for the family and children.
– It’s also common for women to take a less qualified job close to home, or to start working part time, in order to drop off and pick up the kids at day care, says Erika Sandow.
Her findings show that expanding work regions primarily benefit the careers of men, and continued increases in long-distance commuting may preserve and reinforce gender differences in the home and on the job market.
Weighing the benefits and disadvantages of a long-distance job prospect is already difficult for one’s life. Knowing that it also carries an increased likelihood for divorce and stress are just additional points to consider.
You can find the majority of the dissertation online. However, the text of four of the chapters is not included, only their abstracts.