IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Commute Costs and Labor Supply: Evidence from a Satellite Campus

  • Fu, Shihe
  • Viard, Brian

Whether, and how much, increased commute costs decrease labor supply is important for transport policy, city growth, and business strategies. Yet empirical estimates are limited and biased downward due to endogenous choices of residences, workplaces, commute modes, and wages. We use the transition of undergraduate teaching from a Chinese university’s urban to suburban campus and ten years of complete course schedule data to test how teachers’ labor supply responds to a longer commute. Exogeneity is ensured because few faculty change residences, nearly all faculty ride a free shuttle bus, and we control for wage changes. Employing a regression discontinuity design, the 1.0 to 1.5-hour (40-kilometer) increase in round-trip commute time reduces annual undergraduate teaching by 56 hours or 23%. Consistent with higher per-day commute costs annual teaching days decrease by 27 while daily teaching hours increase by 0.49. Difference-in-difference estimates using faculty-specific changes in commute time corroborate these results ruling out aggregate confounders. Faculty substitute toward graduate teaching but decrease research output. The university accommodated the reduced teaching time primarily by increasing class sizes implying that education quality declined.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: original version
Download Restriction: no

File URL:
File Function: revised version
Download Restriction: no

File URL:
File Function: revised version
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 53740.

in new window

Date of creation: 17 Feb 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:53740
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Ludwigstraße 33, D-80539 Munich, Germany

Phone: +49-(0)89-2180-2459
Fax: +49-(0)89-2180-992459
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Jos van Ommeren & Eva Gutierrez-i-Puigarnau, 2009. "Are Workers with A Long Commute Less Productive? An Empirical Analysis of Absenteeism," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 09-014/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  2. Gutiérrez-i-Puigarnau, Eva & van Ommeren, Jos N., 2010. "Labour supply and commuting," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 82-89, July.
  3. Marcy Burchfield & Henry G. Overman & Diego Puga & Matthew A. Turner, 2005. "Causes of sprawl: A portrait from space," Working Papers tecipa-192, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  4. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
  5. Parry, Ian W H & Bento, Antonio, 2001. " Revenue Recycling and the Welfare Effects of Road Pricing," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 103(4), pages 645-71, December.
  6. Marie Connolly, 2008. "Here Comes the Rain Again: Weather and the Intertemporal Substitution of Leisure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26, pages 73-100.
  7. Timothy, Darren & Wheaton, William C., 2001. "Intra-Urban Wage Variation, Employment Location, and Commuting Times," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 338-366, September.
  8. Inge Mayeres & Stef Proost, 1998. "Marginal Tax Reform, Externalities and Income Distribution," Working Papers Department of Economics ces9832, KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business, Department of Economics.
  9. White, Michelle J., 1988. "Location choice and commuting behavior in cities with decentralized employment," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 129-152, September.
  10. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2010. "Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 281-355, June.
  11. Giacomo De Giorgi & Michele Pellizzari & William Gui Woolston, 2010. "Class Size and Class Heterogeneity," NBER Working Papers 16405, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Richard Arnott & Tilmann Rave & Ronnie Schöb, 2005. "Alleviating Urban Traffic Congestion," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262012197, December.
  13. V. Brian Viard & Shihe Fu, 2013. "The Effect of Beijing’s Driving Restrictions on Pollution and Economic Activity," WISE Working Papers 2013-10-14, Wang Yanan Institute for Studies in Economics (WISE), Xiamen University.
  14. Vickrey, William S, 1969. "Congestion Theory and Transport Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 251-60, May.
  15. Alan Manning, 2003. "The Real Thin Theory: Monopsony in Modern Labour Markets," CEP Discussion Papers dp0564, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  16. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew E. Kahn, 2001. "Decentralized Employment and the Transformation of the American City," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1912, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  17. J J Arias & Douglas M. Walker, 2004. "Additional Evidence on the Relationship between Class Size and Student Performance," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(4), pages 311-329, October.
  18. Shihe Fu & Stephen Ross, 2010. "Wage Premia in Employment Clusters: How Important is Worker Heterogeneity?," Working Papers 2011-027, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  19. White, Michelle J, 1986. "Sex Differences in Urban Commuting Patterns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 368-72, May.
  20. Black, Dan A. & Kolesnikova, Natalia & Taylor, Lowell J., 2014. "Why do so few women work in New York (and so many in Minneapolis)? Labor supply of married women across US cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 59-71.
  21. repec:dgr:uvatin:20090014 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Hymel, Kent, 2009. "Does traffic congestion reduce employment growth?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 127-135, March.
  23. Michael Kremer & Nazmul Chaudhury & F. Halsey Rogers & Karthik Muralidharan & Jeffrey Hammer, 2005. "Teacher Absence in India: A Snapshot," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 658-667, 04/05.
  24. Zax, Jeffrey S & Kain, John F, 1996. "Moving to the Suburbs: Do Relocating Companies Leave Their Black Employees Behind?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(3), pages 472-504, July.
  25. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule to Estimate the Effect of Class Size on Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575.
  26. Zax, Jeffrey S, 1991. "The Substitution between Moves and Quits," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(409), pages 1510-21, November.
  27. Arnott, Richard & de Palma, Andre & Lindsey, Robin, 1993. "A Structural Model of Peak-Period Congestion: A Traffic Bottleneck with Elastic Demand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 161-79, March.
  28. Enrico Moretti & Per Thulin, 2013. "Local multipliers and human capital in the United States and Sweden," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(1), pages 339-362, February.
  29. Cogan, John F, 1981. "Fixed Costs and Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 945-63, June.
  30. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2007. "Changes in the Labor Supply Behavior of Married Women: 1980–2000," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 393-438.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:53740. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joachim Winter)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.