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Commute time and subjective well-being in urban China

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  • Nie, Peng
  • Sousa-Poza, Alfonso

Abstract

Using data from the 2010 China Family Panel Studies, this study investigates the association between commute time and subjective well-being in a sample of 16- to 65-year-old employees in urban China. We find evidence that a longer commute time is associated with lower levels of both life satisfaction and happiness, especially when the commute times are extreme (≥ 1 hour per day). A multiple mediation analysis further indicates that the relation between commute time and happiness is partially mediated by time spent on daily activities, particularly sleeping. We calculate the amount of income necessary to compensate an employee's loss in well-being at approximately 82 yuan per hour of commute time, implying that, in urban China, the annual loss of well-being amounts to around 10 billion yuan.

Suggested Citation

  • Nie, Peng & Sousa-Poza, Alfonso, 2015. "Commute time and subjective well-being in urban China," Hohenheim Discussion Papers in Business, Economics and Social Sciences 09-2015, University of Hohenheim, Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:hohdps:092015
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    1. Novaco, Raymond W. & Kliewer, Wendy & Broquet, Alexander, 1991. "Home Environment Consequences of Commute Travel Impedance," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt1d5742g7, University of California Transportation Center.
    2. Liza Steele & Scott Lynch, 2013. "The Pursuit of Happiness in China: Individualism, Collectivism, and Subjective Well-Being During China’s Economic and Social Transformation," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 114(2), pages 441-451, November.
    3. Nie, Peng & Otterbach, Steffen & Sousa-Poza, Alfonso, 2015. "Long work hours and health in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 212-229.
    4. Alois Stutzer & Bruno S. Frey, 2008. "Stress that Doesn't Pay: The Commuting Paradox," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 110(2), pages 339-366, June.
    5. Zhang, Xin & Zhang, Xiaobo & Chen, Xi, 2015. "Happiness in the Air: How Does a Dirty Sky Affect Subjective Well-being?," IZA Discussion Papers 9312, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Pénard, Thierry & Poussing, Nicolas & Suire, Raphaël, 2013. "Does the Internet make people happier?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 105-116.
    7. Roberts, Jennifer & Hodgson, Robert & Dolan, Paul, 2011. "“It's driving her mad”: Gender differences in the effects of commuting on psychological health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1064-1076.
    8. Dickerson, Andy & Hole, Arne Risa & Munford, Luke A., 2014. "The relationship between well-being and commuting revisited: Does the choice of methodology matter?," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 321-329.
    9. Novaco, Raymond W. & Collier, Cheryl, 1994. "Commuting Stress, Ridesharing, and Gender: Analyses from the 1993 State of the Commute Study in Southern California," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt5fs1d377, University of California Transportation Center.
    10. N. Hamilton & C. Nelson & N. Stevens & Heather Kitzman, 2007. "Sleep and psychological well-being," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 82(1), pages 147-163, May.
    11. Novaco, Raymond W. & Stokols, Daniel & Milanesi, Louis, 1990. "Objective and Subjective Dimensions Of Travel Impedance as Determinants Of Commuting Stress," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt5jq8164z, University of California Transportation Center.
    12. Lars Olsson & Tommy Gärling & Dick Ettema & Margareta Friman & Satoshi Fujii, 2013. "Happiness and Satisfaction with Work Commute," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 111(1), pages 255-263, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:gam:jsusta:v:11:y:2018:i:1:p:84-:d:192847 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:eee:chieco:v:54:y:2019:i:c:p:256-270 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Olga Lorenz, 2017. "Does Commuting Matter to Subjective Well-Being?," IAAEU Discussion Papers 201707, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    commute time; life satisfaction; happiness; urban China;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise

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