Impact of Moving and Job Changes on Commuting Time
Urban economic theory considers housing and employment decisions to be closely related, as people weigh their commuting and housing costs, earnings, and relative tastes in housing in their choices. The best choices, however, are often burdened with short-term impediments. Changing one’s housing and job both involve transaction costs. Also, employment decisions are made by individuals, whereas housing decisions are made by households. Certain household types (such as renter, single-person, or nonfamily households) may have more flexibility in their decisions than others (such as owners, dual-earner married couples, or families with children). This study uses the commuting data collected by the American Housing Survey (AHS) to examine the relationship between commuting time and household moves for different household types. Because the AHS is longitudinal by housing unit, it can identify changes in commuting time and distance for households who do not move. The study finds that recent movers have the shortest commutes, followed by stayers who do not change jobs, and that stayers who do change jobs have the longest commutes. These findings are consistent with the theoretical framework. The relationship between job change and commuting time seems contingent on household type. Commuting time decreased for members of married-couple or partner households and for single-person households. Only the change for married-couple or partner households was statistically significant. Single parents had the largest increase in travel time. Unrelated individuals and the members of households with adult members related to the householder but not a spouse also showed increases in travel time.