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The impact of labour market disruptions and transport choice on the environment during COVID-19


  • Crowley, Frank
  • Daly, Hannah
  • Doran, Justin
  • Ryan, Geraldine
  • Caulfield, Brian


Since late 2019, COVID-19 has devastated the global economy, with indirect implications for the environment. As governments’ prioritized health and implemented measures such as the closure of non-essential businesses and social distancing, many workers have lost their jobs, been furloughed, or started working from home. Consequently, the world of work has drastically transformed and this period is likely to have major implications for mobility, transportation and the environment. This paper estimates the potential for people to engage in remote work and social distancing using O*NET data and Irish Census data and calculates the potential emission savings, by commuter type from a switch to remote working and occupational social distancing. The results show that while those who commute by car have a relatively high potential for remote work, they are less likely to be able to engage in social distancing in their workplace. While this may be negative for employment prospects in the short run, our analysis indicates that this pattern has the potential for positive environmental implications in the short and long run.

Suggested Citation

  • Crowley, Frank & Daly, Hannah & Doran, Justin & Ryan, Geraldine & Caulfield, Brian, 2021. "The impact of labour market disruptions and transport choice on the environment during COVID-19," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 185-195.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:trapol:v:106:y:2021:i:c:p:185-195
    DOI: 10.1016/j.tranpol.2021.04.008

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    2. Caulfield, Brian & Charly, Anna, 2022. "Examining the potential environmental and travel time saved benefits of remote working hubs," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 139-147.
    3. Stefaniec, Agnieszka & Brazil, William & Whitney, Warren & Caulfield, Brian, 2022. "Desire to work from home: Results of an Irish study," Journal of Transport Geography, Elsevier, vol. 104(C).
    4. O'Driscoll, Conor & Crowley, Frank & Doran, Justin & McCarthy, Nóirín, 2022. "Retail sprawl and CO2 emissions: Retail centres in Irish cities," Journal of Transport Geography, Elsevier, vol. 102(C).
    5. Aleem, Majid & Sufyan, Muhammad & Ameer, Irfan & Mustak, Mekhail, 2023. "Remote work and the COVID-19 pandemic: An artificial intelligence-based topic modeling and a future agenda," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 154(C).
    6. O’Driscoll, Conor & Crowley, Frank & Doran, Justin & McCarthy, Nóirín, 2023. "Land-use mixing in Irish cities: Implications for sustainable development," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 128(C).
    7. Wang, Chunan & Jiang, Changmin, 2022. "How do pandemics affect intercity air travel? Implications for traffic and environment," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 330-353.

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