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Is There a Quiet Revolution in Women's Travel? Revisiting the Gender Gap in Commuting


  • Crane, Randall


Gender is both an archetypal and adaptive dimension of the urban condition and thus remains a key moving target for planning practitioners and scholars alike. This is especially true of women’s growing, if not revolutionary, involvement in the economy. A familiar exception is the trip linking work and home – the commute – which has been consistently and persistently shorter for women than men. That said, new reports suggest that the gender gap in commuting time and distance may have quietly vanished in some areas. To explore this possibility, I use panel data from the American Housing Survey to better measure and explain commute trends for the entire U.S. from 1985 through 2005. They overwhelmingly indicate that differences stubbornly endure, with men’s and women’s commuting distances converging only slowly and commuting times diverging. My results also show that commuting times are converging for all races, especially for women; women’s job access remains poorer than men’s, and women’s trips to work by transit are dwindling rapidly. Thus sex continues to play an important role explaining travel, housing, and labor market dynamics, with major implications for planning practice.

Suggested Citation

  • Crane, Randall, 2007. "Is There a Quiet Revolution in Women's Travel? Revisiting the Gender Gap in Commuting," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt8nj9n8nb, University of California Transportation Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:uctcwp:qt8nj9n8nb

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz & Ilyana Kuziemko, 2006. "The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(4), pages 133-156, Fall.
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    8. Zax, Jeffrey S., 1991. "Compensation for commutes in labor and housing markets," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 192-207, September.
    9. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hearst, Mary O. & Sirard, John R. & Forsyth, Ann & Parker, Emily D. & Klein, Elizabeth G. & Green, Christine G. & Lytle, Leslie A., 2013. "The relationship of area-level sociodemographic characteristics, household composition and individual-level socioeconomic status on walking behavior among adults," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 149-157.
    2. Kan, Iddo & Haim, David & Rapaport-Rom, Mickey & Shechter, Mordechai, 2009. "Environmental amenities and optimal agricultural land use: The case of Israel," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(6), pages 1893-1898, April.
    3. Boarnet, Marlon G. & Hsu, Hsin-Ping, 2015. "The gender gap in non-work travel: The relative roles of income earning potential and land use," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 111-127.
    4. repec:eee:regeco:v:68:y:2018:i:c:p:291-303 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Joachim Scheiner & Christian Holz-Rau, 2017. "Women’s complex daily lives: a gendered look at trip chaining and activity pattern entropy in Germany," Transportation, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 117-138, January.
    6. Galvin, Ray, 2015. "The rebound effect, gender and social justice: A case study in Germany," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 759-769.
    7. repec:eee:transa:v:100:y:2017:i:c:p:170-181 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Rafael Henrique Moraes Pereira & Tim Schwanen, 2013. "Commute Time in Brazil (1992-2009): Differences Between Metropolitan Areas, by Income Levels and Gender," Discussion Papers 1813a, Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada - IPEA.
    9. Gimenez-Nadal, J. Ignacio & Molina, José Alberto & Velilla, Jorge, 2016. "Commuting Time and Sex Ratios in the US," IZA Discussion Papers 9933, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Kirby, Dustin K. & LeSage, James P., 2009. "Changes in commuting to work times over the 1990 to 2000 period," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 460-471, July.
    11. Yingling Fan, 2017. "Household structure and gender differences in travel time: spouse/partner presence, parenthood, and breadwinner status," Transportation, Springer, vol. 44(2), pages 271-291, March.
    12. Klein, Nicholas J. & Smart, Michael J., 2016. "Travel mode choice among same-sex couples," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 1-13.
    13. K. Bruce Newbold & Darren M. Scott & Charles Burke, 2017. "Immigrant status and commute distance: an exploratory study based on the greater Golden Horseshoe," Transportation, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 181-198, January.
    14. Ron Buliung & Randy Bui & Ryan Lanyon, 2012. "When the internet is not enough: toward an understanding of carpool services for service workers," Transportation, Springer, vol. 39(5), pages 877-893, September.
    15. Mizuki Kawabata & Yukiko Abe, 2016. "Spatial dimensions of intra-metropolitan disparities in commuting time and female labor force participation," Keio-IES Discussion Paper Series 2016-024, Institute for Economics Studies, Keio University.
    16. Matsuo, Miwa, 2016. "Gender differences in mobility of Hispanic immigrants," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 209-230.
    17. Brian D. Taylor & Kelcie Ralph & Michael Smart, 2015. "What Explains the Gender Gap in Schlepping? Testing Various Explanations for Gender Differences in Household-Serving Travel," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1493-1510, November.
    18. repec:bla:tvecsg:v:107:y:2016:i:5:p:505-521 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Sandow, Erika & Westin, Kerstin, 2010. "The persevering commuter - Duration of long-distance commuting," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 44(6), pages 433-445, July.
    20. Kimbrough, Gray, 2016. "What Drives Gender Differences in Commuting Behavior: Evidence from the American Time Use Survey," UNCG Economics Working Papers 16-4, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics, revised 10 Jun 2016.
    21. Gray Kimbrough, 2016. "What Drives Gender Differences in Commuting? Evidence from the American Time Use Survey," 2016 Papers pki275, Job Market Papers.

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