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Country's best Brains Suffer 2 hour Commute each day

Originally published - 7 Dec 1999

New research, by Professor Andrew Oswald and Dr Andrew Benito of the University of Warwick, reveals that the people facing by far the worst commuting times are Britain's most educated and talented employees and managers. Each of whom is often wasting over two hours in cars and trains each working day. The research found that:
  • People with university degrees spend 50% more time commuting than those with low qualifications.
  • In the south-east a quarter of all men with university degrees spend over 2 hours a day commuting.
  • For all types of employees, travel-to-work times are high in London (now averaging nearly 40 minutes one-way), and have been growing through the 1990s.
  • Over the decade, Londoners have lost an additional 70 minutes of weekly leisure or working time to commuting. Outside the south-east of Britain, there has been no increase in travel-to-work times.
  • Commutes are longest in the southern corner of Great Britain. In the south-east, 30% of workers now take at least 45 minutes to get to work (compared to 10% in the rest of GB).
  • Private renting seems to encourage the lowest commuting times. Council-house tenants travel somewhat more. It is owner-occupiers who travel by far the furthest to their jobs.
  • People employed in large plants and offices take longer to get to work.
  • At first glance, it is the well off in Britain who commute the most. But a more detailed analysis shows that actually high pay appears to discourage workers from commuting for long hours. Such people probably value their time too much.
  • Married men commute more than average; part-time employees commute less than average.

Professor Oswald said:

All across western society, congestion is getting worse, and skilled workers are spending more and more time getting to work. This worsens the efficiency of an economy and very probably worsens the quality of personal and family life. Getting transport running smoothly has to be a future priority in the industrialised nations."

The authors draw upon evidence from the British Household Panel Study. Every year through the 1990s, they have followed the changing lives of 10,000 British people living in 5000 different households. The full report is available from Professor Oswald's web site (see below)

For further information please contact:

Professor Andrew Oswald, Professor of Economics
University of Warwick Tel: 024 76 523510 (Office),
01367 860005 (Home)
email (office) (home)