Divorce, stress, loneliness, and medical problems are just a few of the negative effects of long commutes. As Annie Lowrey details in a recent Slate article, a growing body of research has found the negative impacts of lengthy commutes to be wide-ranging and potentially severe.
Interestingly, it does not appear to be simply the extra time consumed before and after work—a person who works 10 hours with an hour-long commute each way would be worse off than another person who worked 12 hours and had a negligible commute.
One-way commute time has been creeping up for the last 50 years and the U.S. average now stands at 24 minutes, with many workers commuting much longer distances. In fact, over the last 20 years, the number of workers who commute for at least 90 minutes each way has doubled to 3.5 million. Much of this change has been driven by the housing market. People have been trading additional daily commute time for lower housing prices, or “driving till they qualify.” While people appreciate having a larger home, they often neglect to account for the less apparent costs of commuting when making housing decisions.