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Measuring the Measurable: Why can’t we Agree on the Number of Telecommuters in the U.S.?

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Author Info

  • Patricia Mokhtarian

    ()

  • Ilan Salomon

    ()

  • Sangho Choo

    ()

Abstract

Using telecommuting as a case study, we demonstrate that definitions, measurement instruments, sampling and sometimes vested interests affect the quality and utility even of seemingly objective and “measurable” data. Little consensus exists with respect to the definition of telecommuting, or to possible distinctions from related terms such as teleworking. Such a consensus is unlikely, since the “best” definition of telecommuting depends on one’s point of reference and purpose. However, differing definitions confound efforts to measure the amount of telecommuting and how it is changing over time. This paper evaluates estimates of the amounts of telecommuting occurring in the U. S. obtained from several different sources: the U. S. Census, the American Housing Survey, several Work at Home supplements to the Current Population Survey, a series of market research surveys, and the trade association-sponsored Telework America surveys. Many of the issues raised here are transferable to other contexts, and indirectly serve as suggestions for improving data collection in the future.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11135-004-6790-z
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Quality and Quantity.

Volume (Year): 39 (2005)
Issue (Month): 4 (08)
Pages: 423-452

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Handle: RePEc:spr:qualqt:v:39:y:2005:i:4:p:423-452

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Web page: http://www.springer.com/economics/journal/11135

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Related research

Keywords: Telecommuting; teleworking; data quality; measurement issues; social science data; transportation impacts of telecommuting;

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References

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  1. Sangho Choo & Patricia L. Mokhtarian & Ilan Salomon, 2005. "Does Telecommuting Reduce Vehicle-miles Traveled? An Aggregate Time Series Analysis for the U. S," Econometrics 0505001, EconWPA.
  2. Skamris, Mette K. & Flyvbjerg, Bent, 1997. "Inaccuracy of traffic forecasts and cost estimates on large transport projects," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 141-146, July.
  3. Mokhtarian, Patricia L, 1992. "Defining Telecommuting," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt7k47f97v, University of California Transportation Center.
  4. Mokhtarian, Patricia L & Salomon, Ilan & Choo, Sangho, 2004. "Data and Measurement Issues in Transportation, With Telecommuting as a Case Study," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt9pt8s9jv, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
  5. Handy, Susan & Mokhtarian, Patricia, 1996. "The Future of Telecommuting," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt5nm777c1, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
  6. Joanne Pratt, 2000. "Asking the right questions about telecommuting: Avoiding pitfalls in surveying homebased work," Transportation, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 99-116, February.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Rotem-Mindali, Orit, 2010. "E-tail versus retail: The effects on shopping related travel empirical evidence from Israel," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 312-322, September.
  2. Song, Moohoun & Orazem, Peter & Singh, Rajesh, 2006. "Broadband Access, Telecommuting and the Urban-Rural Digital Divide," Staff General Research Papers 12495, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  3. Bayarma Alexander & Martin Dijst & Dick Ettema, 2010. "Working from 9 to 6? An analysis of in-home and out-of-home working schedules," Transportation, Springer, vol. 37(3), pages 505-523, May.
  4. Tang, Wei & Mokhtarian, Patricia L & Handy, Susan L, 2008. "The Role of Neighborhood Characteristics in the Adoption and Frequency of Working at Home: Empirical Evidence from Northern California," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt13x2q3rb, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.

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