Even though men, on average, spend a higher percentage of their time commuting to and from work than women a recent study has revealed that the mental health of women is being affected in a negative way by travelling to work, while men are generally immune to the pressures of the commute.
Added pressures for women make them more vulnerable to stress
Research has suggested that the key factors that explain this difference between working men and working women are related to pressures coming from elsewhere. Women often have to worry much more than men about daily household chores such as keeping the house clean and, most stressful of all, looking after the children on top of working. With this in mind it is easy to see how women may be more vulnerable to other stressful things such as commuting.
Co-author and economist Prof Jennifer Roberts, from the University of Sheffield, said: “We know that women, especially those with children, are more likely to add daily errands to their commute, such as food shopping and dropping off and picking up children from childcare.
“These time constraints and the reduced flexibility that comes with them make commuting stressful in a way that it wouldn’t be otherwise.”
Women with pre-schoolers most affected
The results of the research is to be published today in the Journal of Health Economics. It is titled “It’s driving her mad: Gender differences in the effects of commuting on psychological health”. The study discovered that the women most likely to be negatively affected by the stress of commuting were, unsurprisingly, those with children who were too young to be in school yet.
The psychological strain of commuting for women with children who are at the pre-school age is four times as high as it is for commuting men who have children of exactly the same age.
The data was collected from the British Household Panel Survey, which is a yearly survey taken by households all over Britain and relates to issues of employment, mental health and financial matters.