Five Fast Facts – Commuting and Happiness


1. Commuting affects the shape and quality of our social networks

A study done in 2009 in Switzerland found that people who commute longer distances to work tend to have friends that live farther away from one another. This tends to mean these individuals’ friends are less likely to know each other and their social networks are more diffuse than the those who commute shorter distances.

2. We are happier when we are walking, riding a train or cycling to work

A study done at McGill University found that people who walk, ride the train or cycle to work are more satisfied with their commutes than those who drive, ride the metro or ride the bus.

3. We’re more likely to have successful relationships when we commute shorter distances

A study done by researchers at Umea University in Sweden found that married couples in which one spouse commutes for longer than 45 minutes are 40% more likely to divorce, suggesting that these individuals have less time to spend with loved ones and families and may have higher levels of stress than people who commute shorter distances.

4. We pay for long commutes

In this study Strutzer and Frey used marginal utility of income assessments to determine that people who commute one hour to work often need to earn 40% more money to be as happy as people who walk to the office.

5. Our commutes affect the happiness of our loved ones

Strutzer and Frey also researched the effects commuting has on family life.  They found that the more time individuals spend commuting, the less satisfied their family members are with their respective lives.


Want more on emotional wellbeing, commuting and urban design? Check out The Happy City by Charles Montgomery.


Lowrey, Annie. “Your Commute Is Killing You.” Slate. 1 May 2011. Web. 6 Feb. 2015.

Montgomery, Charles. Happy City. Doubleday Canada, Limited, 2013. Print.

St-Louisa, Evelyne, Kevin Manaughb, Dea Van Lieropc, and Ahmed El-Geneidya. “The Happy Commuter: A Comparison of Commuter Satisfaction Across Modes.” Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour 26 (2014): 160-70. Print.

Stutzer, Alois, and Bruno S. Frey. “Stress That Doesn’t Pay: The Commuting Paradox*.” Scandinavian Journal of Economics 110.2 (2008): 339-66. Print.

Kate2-150x150Kate Beck is an aspiring urban planner who’s passionate about streets, social justice, bicycles and rock climbing. She spent the summer helping to connect Active Neighbourhoods with the Bridgeland community. She has recently finished a degree in geography at University of British Columbia in Vancouver.



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