It’s official; commuting makes us miserable! A report compiled by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has found that daily commuting takes a toll on most commuters’ sense of well-being.
The ONS said that commuters have lower life satisfaction, a lower sense that their activities are worthwhile, are less happy and more anxious than non-commuters. Not surprisingly the worst effects on personal well-being were associated with longer journey times; between 60 and 90 minutes. Taking a bus to work for longer than 30 minutes had the worst impact.
The report’s findings reflect what most people feel intuitively; that spending long periods travelling to and from work every day is not good for wellbeing. Often a commute is unavoidable, and as the report points out, undertaken for family and financial reasons.
Why did the ONS produce the report?
The ONS report is part of its Measuring National Well-being Programme, which started in 2010. The programme aims to produce valid measures of the wellbeing of the nation, or as the ONS puts it, how the UK as a whole is doing. The programme includes areas such as health, relationships, job satisfaction, economic security, education, environmental conditions and other measures of personal wellbeing.
What evidence did the report look at?
Participants were identified as commuters (people who spent one minute or more travelling to work) or non-commuters (people who said they worked from home in their main job.) Those who said they worked in different places using home as a base or that they worked somewhere different from home were excluded.
It included around 60,200 people, of whom 91.5% were classified as commuters and 8.5% classified as non-commuters. They were asked four questions on personal well-being which are asked each year:
- How satisfied they were with life
- To what extent they felt things they do in life were worthwhile
- How happy they felt the previous day
- How anxious they felt the previous day
Commuters were then asked a series of questions about their travel to work, including time spent travelling and travel mode.
What were the main conclusions of the ONS report?
The ONS found that on average, compared with non-commuters, commuters have:
- Lower life satisfaction
- A lower sense that their daily activities are worthwhile
- Lower levels of happiness
- Higher anxiety
The worst effects of commuting on personal well-being were associated with journey times lasting between 61 and 90 minutes. On average, all four aspects of personal well-being were negatively affected by commutes of this length, when compared to those travelling only 15 minutes or less to work. Taking the bus to work on a journey lasting more than 30 minutes was the most negative commuting option for personal well-being.
So, if you are a commuter, then make yourself much happier by working much closer to where you live in Kent.