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Identification of 'Wasteful Commuting' using Search Theory


Author Info

  • Jos Van Ommeren

    (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

  • Willemijn Van der Straaten

    (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)


In this paper, we employ search theory as a micro-economic foundation for the wasteful commuting hypothesis. It is argued that the commute of the self-employed is the result of a search process for vacant workplaces, whereas employees search for vacant jobs through space. Because the arrival rate of workplaces is much higher than the arrival rate of jobs, the self-employed essentially may minimise the commute, whereas employees accept jobs with a longer commute. In the empirical analysis, the extent of the ‘wasteful commuting’ is identified by estimating the difference in the commute of employees and self-employed individuals with fixed workplaces. Our estimates indicate that about 40 to 50% of the observed commute may be considered ‘wasteful’ due to job search imperfections. We reject alternative hypotheses why the self-employed have a shorter commute (self-selection of not working from home, different residence locations). In line with the theoretical model, the excess commute is shown to be less in areas with a higher urban density.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tinbergen Institute in its series Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers with number 05-088/3.

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Date of creation: 26 Sep 2005
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Handle: RePEc:dgr:uvatin:20050088

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Keywords: wasteful commuting; search; mobility; self-employed;

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Cited by:
  1. Tscharaktschiew, Stefan & Hirte, Georg, 2009. "How does the household structure shape the urban economy?," Dresden Discussion Paper Series in Economics 07/09, Dresden University of Technology, Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Economics.


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