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In the Netherlands, the determinants of long distance commute and intention for migration were examined by Van Ham & Hooimeijer (2009) used the 2002 Housing Demand Survey. Based on three logistic regression models, Van Ham & Hooimerjier further proved the importance of individual and household characteristics to the longer journey to work. For example, long distance commuters in the Netherlands commonly had higher income and higher levels of education. However, although they found that home owners were less willing to migrate for a job than renters, they could not use home ownership to explain long distance commutes.
Another long distance commuting study was also conducted in Sweden by Ohman (2010) based on the 1994 Sweden register data. The results of Ohman's model were quite similar to the conclusions of other long distance commuting studies. Yet Ohman addressed the importance of social ties, individual and social preferences and norms, and the accessibility and choice of transportation mode all would influence people's choice of longer commute although he did not includes these variables in his model. Moreover, Ohman distinguished three types of mobility patterns as "what individuals can, must and want to". What people can do depends on the technological level in transportation and communication of a society, and physical ability and income and information resources possessed by an individual. What people must do to make a living and utilize services depends on the spatial setting including workplaces, housing and shopping in a region, as well as social norms and values. What people want to do reflects people's freewill and preferences which might also be influenced by social norms. Then, long distance commuting becomes the result of combination of "can", "must" and "want to" mobility (Ohman, 2010).
3.4. Long Distance Weekly Commuting
After choosing to take long work trips, workers do have options to travel between home and work daily or to spend weekdays at the workplace followed by returning home during weekend, which is called long distance weekly commuting. When the distance between a workplace and a residence is beyond the feasible or tolerable daily journey to work, individuals have to commit to weekly commuting life when they need to or want to obtain opportunities far away from home without relocating. The literature on long distance commuting discussed above does not distinguish these two types of long distance commuting although some researchers have mentioned the issue (Ohman, 2010; Sandow & Westin, 2010). Long distance weekly commuters in the current society only represents a small group of population, and the current major travel survey typically assumes that individuals travel on a daily basis between a single fixed residence and single fixed workplace (Green, Hogarth, & Shackleton, 1999a), which creates the major difficulty to separate weekly commuters for daily commuters. Most long distance weekly commuting research which will be reviewed below was performed based on small samples and conducted using qualitative methods.
The phenomenon of long distance weekly commuting has mostly been investigated by researchers in the fields of geography and sociology. These two bodies of literature have emphasized different aspects of the weekly commuting. In geography, weekly commuting is studied as a strategy to avoid migration with the consideration of the social and spatial contexts.
In sociology, on the other hand, researchers focus on the impact of weekly commuting on family life and evaluate the satisfaction of such a lifestyle.
3.5. Migration vs. Commuting
Migration is defined as " any permanent or semi permanent change of residence, more meaningfully, a spatial transfer from one social unit or neighborhood to another, which strains or ruptures previous social bonds" (Zelinsky, 1971, p. 225). Generally, migration is highly related to local labor market conditions. For example, wage differences between regions may motivate people to migrate to areas with higher wage levels to improve their living conditions.
Unemployment due to occupation imbalance, lack of enough information and uncertainty of job availability in a labor market may also force people to migrate (Oeberg, 1995). In addition, individuals' backgrounds and experience could influence their migration intentions. For instance, a high level of education could prevent people from changing job occupations but encourage people to move geographically (Borsch-Supan, 1990). On the contrary, a higher value of the physical infrastructure of a region, such as a diverse housing program, a sophisticated transportation system, or an excellent education system might discourage people from migrating to other regions (Oeberg, 1995).
According to Zelinsky (1971), our society has gone through five stages of mobility transition from the pre-modern stage in which society was mainly dependent on traditional agriculture and was sedentary to the middle stages, which was represented by a massive migration flow, and to the super advanced stages when migration flows were again absorbed by the modern ICT systems (Oeberg, 1995; Zelinsky, 1971). Today, on the one hand, various modern means of transport have provided people higher mobility; the advanced ICT system enables people access to information beyond geographical boundaries; a rising level of affluence and education increases people's desire to obtain better opportunities even further away. All these facts create a greater potential of higher geographical mobility. On the other hand, humans have accumulated a higher level of physical capitals thus making people tend to attach to a place more easily.
Neighborhood amenities, schools, city welfare, local social networks and so on would hinder people from moving to different places. Thus long distance weekly commuting offers an additional option other than migration to resolve this dilemma (Eliasson, Lindgren, & Westerlund, 2003; Green, et al., 1999a; Sandow & Westin, 2008).
The cases of long distance weekly commuting between North East England and London were examined by the Policy Studies Institutes sequentially in mid-1980s and late 1990s (Green, et al., 1999a; Green, Hogarth, & Shackleton, 1999b; Hogarth, 1987; Hogarth & Daniel, 1988). Since the late 1970s, a significant uneven employment distribution between north and south areas have emerged in England which resulted in a significant number of individuals who found jobs in the South East, but for a variety of reasons, principally lacked affordable accommodation, maintained their living in the North and commuted weekly to the South East region (Hogarth, 1987).
In the first study, Hogarth (1987) and Daniel (Hogarth & Daniel, 1988) estimated a total number of 10,000 long distance weekly commuters based on the national census, then they sent out questionnaires on coaches and trains leaving London on Friday evening for North-East England and found one hundred and five long distance weekly commuters, among whom they chose twenty five for further in depth interviewing. They also probed the opinions of partners of some of these weekly commuters and explored the attitudes of employers by surveying companies who had been advertising in North East England for professional employees.
More than ten year later, Green et al. (1999b) discovered over 200,000 employees in England who had their workplaces beyond the daily travelling distance of their homes. Using the same methods as Hogath and Daniel, Green et al. (1999b) surveyed one hundred and fifteen long distance weekly commuters and interviewed twenty five of them along with some partners, and surveyed 48 companies. Both surveys in the 80s and in the 90s related the increase of women in employment and the growth of dual earner households to the phenomenon of long distance weekly commuting. According to Hogarth & Daniel (1988) and Green et al (1999b), one group of weekly commuters were "pulled" into commuting because weekly commuting could provide them more prestigious employment opportunities and chances to further career prospects. In addition, weekly commuting could also allow them to retain their family home in the environment they felt more attractive, maintain their partners’ career pursuits and children's education statuses. This group of commuters more enjoyed the benefit of such a life style and appreciated the uninterrupted working time during weekdays. Another group of weekly commuters were "pushed" into the lifestyle due to job secondment, or because the job opportunities were the only work available and could not afford the accommodation in South East England. Workers in this group deemed the long distance commuting as "necessary evil" which ensured the financial security of their family (Green, et al., 1999b). However, a majority of the weekly commuters regarded commuting as long term and not as temporary. Comparing the results of the two time periods, Green et al. (1999b) concluded that there were more "pull" factors in commuting in the 90s than in the 80s. At the same time, employers had become more willing to accept long distance weekly commuting employees and permitted more flexibility to these employees with the support of the ICT systems.
3.6. Commuting Couples - the Sociological & Psychological Perspectives
In the field of sociology, the phenomenon of long distance weekly commuting has attracted researchers' attention due to new family form and partner role that it created. The traditional couple relationship has implied cohabitation (Holmes, 2009), and members in a family had been treated as a single unit in which the husband was the head of the family (Gerstel & Gross, 1984).
The historical reasons that separated couples typically involved men leaving home to work at sea, in the military, or in the oil and mining industries (Gerstel & Gross, 1984; Holmes, 2009). In more recent time, some careers such as sales man or politician also require frequent traveling.
Yet in most other cases when a husband needed to move for work reasons, the wife often followed becoming the "trailing spouse" (van der Klis & Mulder, 2008). However, as more women have begun to participate in the labor market, more households have to manage careers for both partners creating a new home format, called "commuting marriage" or "commuting couples".
One of the earliest studies in commuting marriage was conducted more than 30 years ago by Gerstel & Gross (1984), who defined the commuting marriage as "employed spouses who spend at least three nights per week in separate residences and yet are still married and intend to remain so"(p. 2). They challenged the suitability of nuclear families in the contemporary society in which the need for mobility in the labor market conflicts with the traditional pattern of a shared family home. Individuals had to find different ways to coordinate work and family life, and the commuting marriage became a solution to support the career pursuits of both partners (Gerstel & Gross, 1984; Holmes, 2009).
Since Gerstel & Gross’s original study, a series of other research studies have further explored the incident. The main method used by these researchers was a qualitative investigation. These researchers typically searched for respondents by non-random and snowball sampling techniques and conducted in-depth interviews, through which researchers have been able to examine the rationales behind the commuting marriage life, explore the meaning of separated homes and family roles for commuting couples, evaluate the benefit and stress of commuting marriage, and make recommendations for improving the commuting life.
This body of literature found out that commitment to a commuting partnership always included the work domain (Holmes, 2004, 2006; van der Klis & Karsten, 2009a; van der Klis & Mulder, 2008). Most of the interviewees in these studies were professionals whose specialization in certain areas and education levels left them only small pools of job opportunities fitting their personal occupational demand (van der Klis & Mulder, 2008). Holmes (2004) in particular emphasized the difficulty facing academic couples - the limited number of universities within one area made commuting partnership highly likely, yet the flexibility of academic jobs counteracted the difficulty of such a relationship. Holmes (2006) also argued that professional jobs were necessary to maintain a commuting partnership due to the obligation of sufficient money and some flexibility to maintain two residences. In addition to the work domain, Van der Klis & Mulder (2008) also addressed the reasons from the residential domain including lifestyle preference and housing market conditions.
This group of researchers also looked into family issues in households with commuting couple.
Van der Klis & Karstern (2009b) discussed the meaning of the commuter residence to workers by interviewing thirty commuter couplers in the Netherlands. They concluded that since it was difficult for a commuting partner to establish a strong social connection near the commuter residence, he/she would not consider the second residence as a true home, and he/she would totally separate the work life from the family life between the commuter residence and primary residence. Thus Van der Klis & Karstern argued, in contrast to Gerstel & Gross, that although more families were expected to commit to a commuter partnership in the future, the commuter partnership would not likely become an equal alternative to the nuclear family in the long run (van der Klis & Karsten, 2009b).
Since commuting couples usually spend at least half of their lives separately, well balancing work and family life becomes an importance issue. Van der Klis & Karsten (2009a) distinguished two types of commuting families: the traditionalizing type in which the husband concentrates full time on paid work and the wife with no or a part time job who takes most of the responsibility for the housework, and the egalitarian type in which both partners participate in paid work and share the housework during weekend. The second family type actually reflects a changing role of women in the family life. Although Anderson (Anderson & Spruill, 1993) argued that wives in the commuting family still had more tasks than their husbands in household labor, other researchers believed that women have gain a greater level of autonomy within a commuting partnership (Irene Hardill, 2002; Holmes, 2004).
The commuting life has been found to have both rewards and strains (Bunker, Zubek, Vanderslice, & Rice, 1992; Gross, 1980; Irene Hardill, 2002; van der Klis & Karsten, 2009a).