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The effect of search imperfections on commuting behaviour: Evidence from employed and self-employed workers

  • van Ommeren, Jos N.
  • van der Straaten, J. Willemijn

We aim to estimate the effect of search imperfections on the length of the average commute. We start from the assumption that the commute of the self-employed is the result of a search process for vacant workplaces, whereas employees search for vacant jobs. Because the arrival rate of workplaces is much higher than the arrival rate of jobs, the self-employed minimize the commute, whereas employees may have to accept jobs with a longer commute. In the empirical analysis, the extent of the 'wasteful' or 'excess commuting' is identified by estimating the difference in the commute of employees and self-employed individuals. Our estimates indicate that about 40 to 60% of the observed commute may be considered 'excess' due to search imperfections. We reject a range of alternative hypotheses as to why the self-employed have a shorter commute than employees (self-selection of not working from home, preference for residence and workplace locations, characteristics of workers which are difficult to observe).

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Regional Science and Urban Economics.

Volume (Year): 38 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 127-147

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Handle: RePEc:eee:regeco:v:38:y:2008:i:2:p:127-147
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  1. van den Berg, Gerard J & Gorter, Cees, 1997. "Job Search and Commuting Time," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 15(2), pages 269-81, April.
  2. Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "Ownership, Agency, and Wages: An Examination of Franchising in the Fast Food Industry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(1), pages 75-101, February.
  3. Gerard J. van den Berg & Geert Ridder, 1998. "An Empirical Equilibrium Search Model of the Labor Market," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(5), pages 1183-1222, September.
  4. Hamilton, Bruce W, 1982. "Wasteful Commuting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(5), pages 1035-51, October.
  5. van den Berg, Gerard J, 1992. "A Structural Dynamic Analysis of Job Turnover and the Costs Associated with Moving to Another Job," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(414), pages 1116-33, September.
  6. Kangā€Rae Ma & David Banister, 2006. "Excess Commuting: A Critical Review," Transport Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(6), pages 749-767, May.
  7. Taylor, Mark P, 1996. "Earnings, Independence or Unemployment: Why Become Self-Employed?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 58(2), pages 253-66, May.
  8. Alois Stutzer & Bruno S. Frey, . "Stress That Doesn't Pay: The Commuting Paradox," IEW - Working Papers 151, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  9. Burdett, Kenneth & Mortensen, Dale T, 1998. "Wage Differentials, Employer Size, and Unemployment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(2), pages 257-73, May.
  10. Holzer Harry J. & Ihlanfeldt Keith R. & Sjoquist David L., 1994. "Work, Search, and Travel among White and Black Youth," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 320-345, May.
  11. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 2005. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199279173, March.
  12. Van Ommeren, Jos & Rietveld, Piet, 2005. "The commuting time paradox," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 437-454, November.
  13. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1985. "Moving and Housing Expenditure: Transaction Costs and Disequilibrium," NBER Working Papers 1012, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Zax, Jeffrey S., 1991. "Compensation for commutes in labor and housing markets," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 192-207, September.
  15. William C. Wheaton & Raymond G. Torto, 1988. "Vacancy Rates and the Future of Office Rents," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 16(4), pages 430-436.
  16. Small, Kenneth A. & Song, Shunfeng, 1992. ""Wasteful" Commuting: A Resolution," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt5142n2ts, University of California Transportation Center.
  17. Pierre Cahuc & Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2006. "Wage bargaining with on-the-job search: theory and evidence," Working Papers 150201, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France.
  18. Wasmer, Etienne & Zenou, Yves, 2002. "Does City Structure Affect Job Search and Welfare?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 515-541, May.
  19. van Ommeren, Jos & Rietveld, Piet & Nijkamp, Peter, 1999. "Job Moving, Residential Moving, and Commuting: A Search Perspective," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 230-253, September.
  20. Carrington, William J & McCue, Kristin & Pierce, Brooks, 1996. "The Role of Employer-Employee Interactions in Labor Market Cycles: Evidence from the Self-Employed," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(4), pages 571-602, October.
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  23. White, Michelle J, 1986. "Sex Differences in Urban Commuting Patterns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 368-72, May.
  24. repec:dgr:uvatin:19980089 is not listed on IDEAS
  25. Jos Van Ommeren & Joyce Dargay, 2006. "The Optimal Choice of Commuting Speed: Consequences for Commuting Time, Distance and Costs," Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, London School of Economics and University of Bath, vol. 40(2), pages 279-296, May.
  26. Lazear, Edward P & Moore, Robert L, 1984. "Incentives, Productivity, and Labor Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 99(2), pages 275-96, May.
  27. Crane, Randall, 1996. "The Influence of Uncertain Job Location on Urban Form and the Journey to Work," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 342-356, May.
  28. Cropper, Maureen L. & Gordon, Patrice L., 1991. "Wasteful commuting: A re-examination," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 2-13, January.
  29. Benito, A. & Oswald, A., 2000. "Commuting in Great Britain in the 1990s," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 560, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  30. Hamilton, Bruce W, 1989. "Wasteful Commuting Again," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1497-1504, December.
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