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Telecommuting, Residential Location, and Commute Distance Traveled: Evidence from State of California Employees


  • Mokhtarian, Patricia L.
  • Collantes, Gustavo O.
  • Gertz, Carsten


This study analyzes retrospective data on telecommuting engagement and residential and job location changes over a ten-year period, from 218 employees (62 current telecommuters, 35 former telecommuters, and 121 people who had never telecommuted) of six California state government agencies that had actively participated in the well-known pilot program of 1988-90. We compare estimates of the total commute person-miles traveled of telecommuters and non-telecommuters, on a quarterly basis. Key findings include: (a) One-way commute distances are higher for telecommuters than for non-telecommuters, consistent with prior empirical evidence and with expectation. (b) Average telecommuting frequency declines over time. Several explanations are proposed, but cannot be properly tested with these data. (c) The first two findings notwithstanding, the average quarterly per-capita total commute distances are generally lower for telecommuters than for non-telecommuters, indicating that they telecommute often enough to more than compensate for their longer one-way commutes. We cannot say from these results whether the ability to telecommute is itself prompting individuals to move farther away or whether telecommuting is simply more attractive to people who already live farther from work for other reasons. Even if the first case is true, however, and telecommuting is the “problem†, it also appears to be the solution, i.e. enabling people to achieve a desired but more distant residential location without negative environmental impacts.

Suggested Citation

  • Mokhtarian, Patricia L. & Collantes, Gustavo O. & Gertz, Carsten, 2003. "Telecommuting, Residential Location, and Commute Distance Traveled: Evidence from State of California Employees," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt7mx1s6gh, University of California Transportation Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:uctcwp:qt7mx1s6gh

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mokhtarian, Patricia L. & Handy, Susan L. & Salomon, Ilan, 1995. "Methodological issues in the estimation of the travel, energy, and air quality impacts of telecommuting," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 283-302, July.
    2. Ingrid Gould Ellen & Katherine Hempstead, 2002. "Telecommuting and the Demand for Urban Living: A Preliminary Look at White-collar Workers," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 39(4), pages 749-766, April.
    3. Qing Shen, 2000. "New telecommunications and residential location flexibility," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 32(8), pages 1445-1463, August.
    4. Patricia L. Mokhtarian, 1998. "A Synthetic Approach to Estimating the Impacts of Telecommuting on Travel," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 35(2), pages 215-241, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ettema, Dick, 2010. "The impact of telecommuting on residential relocation and residential preferences: A latent class modelling approach," The Journal of Transport and Land Use, Center for Transportation Studies, University of Minnesota, vol. 3(1), pages 7-24.
    2. Kim, Seung-Nam & Choo, Sangho & Mokhtarian, Patricia L., 2015. "Home-based telecommuting and intra-household interactions in work and non-work travel: A seemingly unrelated censored regression approach," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 197-214.
    3. Morton O’Kelly & Michael Niedzielski & Justin Gleeson, 2012. "Spatial interaction models from Irish commuting data: variations in trip length by occupation and gender," Journal of Geographical Systems, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 357-387, October.
    4. Aguilera, Anne & Lethiais, Virginie & Rallet, Alain & Proulhac, Laurent, 2016. "Home-based telework in France: Characteristics, barriers and perspectives," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 1-11.
    5. repec:eee:transa:v:103:y:2017:i:c:p:1-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Ben-Elia, Eran & Alexander, Bayarma & Hubers, Christa & Ettema, Dick, 2014. "Activity fragmentation, ICT and travel: An exploratory Path Analysis of spatiotemporal interrelationships," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 56-74.
    7. 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.
    8. repec:kap:transp:v:45:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s11116-017-9846-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Pengyu Zhu, 2012. "Are telecommuting and personal travel complements or substitutes?," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 48(2), pages 619-639, April.
    10. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:2:p:714-735 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Nijland, Linda & Dijst, Martin, 2015. "Commuting-related fringe benefits in the Netherlands: Interrelationships and company, employee and location characteristics," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 358-371.

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