Understanding Society: Commuting and wellbeing


The Commuting and Wellbeing study involved an analysis of the first six waves of data released from Understanding Society (the UK Household Longitudinal Study). The Commuting and Wellbeing study addressed three research questions: 1. What specific aspects of wellbeing (e.g. satisfaction with leisure time, feeling constantly under strain) are related to commuting and how do personal and spatial characteristics affect this?; 2. How do different commuting behaviours influence the development of wellbeing over time?; and 3. How do changes in life situation (e.g. moving home, changing jobs) and commuting behaviours influence personal wellbeing over time? The proposed study will generate novel understanding of the process by which commuting behaviours influence personal wellbeing over time. There is growing recognition that traditional measures of economic growth (like GDP) do not necessarily imply improving quality of life across the population. In acknowledgement of this, the UK government has committed to improving their understanding of personal 'wellbeing'. In general terms, wellbeing refers to the extent to which people's lives are going well and this can be affected by lifestyle practices that may influence physical or mental health. Given that commuting is a regularly repeated activity for the working population, it has been suggested that certain travel behaviours, such as long commutes or cycling regularly, could worsen or improve an individual's health and wellbeing over time. However, good evidence is lacking to confirm this. The study will make use of the Understanding Society study, a unique data resource that has been tracking the lives of members of 40,000 households since 2009/10. The same participants have been surveyed once every year, making it possible to understand how and why their lives are changing over time. The proposed study will analyse the first six waves of Understanding Society data. The analysis will identify how the commuting behaviours of employed adults have changed over the period and establish whether and how commuting has affected different aspects of their personal wellbeing. The longitudinal data will allow analysis which considers whether effect takes place after cause and whether greater exposure leads to larger effect. These criteria for causation have not been tested previously. For instance the study will examine if individuals with longer commute times suffer from higher stress levels and reduced leisure time and consequently report lower personal wellbeing overall. By comparison, do those that start walking to work feel that their physical health improves and stress levels reduce, and hence report better wellbeing overall? The study will seek to address such questions. The proposed research has been co-designed by a research team from the University of the West of England (UWE) and policy researchers at the Department for Transport (DfT). DfT has identified specific evidence needs relating to commuting and wellbeing. The research team comprises travel behaviour experts and statisticians from UWE, a health economist from Rand Europe (Adam Martin), and Dr Adrian Davis, an expert in the relationship between transport and health. DfT will chair a project steering group and be joined as project partner by Department of Health and What Works Centre for Wellbeing. A stakeholder interest group will also ensure close links with policy and practice over the course of the study, Outputs from the project will include policy briefing notes and policy toolkit, co-produced by the project partners and the team of researchers. This will showcase new evidence on the relationships between commuting and wellbeing and be used in practice to identify policies and interventions to improve wellbeing through 'healthy commuting' across the working population.

Secondary analysis of the first six waves of Understanding Society, see Related Resources.

DOI https://doi.org/10.5255/UKDA-SN-852980
Metadata Access https://datacatalogue.cessda.eu/oai-pmh/v0/oai?verb=GetRecord&metadataPrefix=oai_ddi25&identifier=971a074dab4af277514981efbc9c24c92278aafb07bd8395a439026c10ce9fbb
Creator Chatterjee, K, University of the West of England; Clark, B, University of the West of England
Publisher UK Data Service
Publication Year 2017
Funding Reference Economic and Social Research Council
Rights Kiron Chatterjee, University of the West of England; The Data Collection only consists of metadata and documentation as the data could not be archived due to legal, ethical or commercial constraints. For further information, please contact the contact person for this data collection.
OpenAccess true
Language English
Resource Type Numeric
Discipline Economics; Psychology; Social and Behavioural Sciences
Spatial Coverage United Kingdom; United Kingdom