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Stress Caused by Commuting: Driving Annoys the City Dwellers, while Public Transportation Stresses in the Countryside

Chart of the Month – November 2017

How much stress commuters undergo on their way to work every day depends to a large extent on the means of transport and the place of residence. According to a study by the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB), there are initially hardly any differences between people commuting by car and those using public transport. However, the experience of stress depends strongly on the settlement structure: in urban areas, drivers are exposed to greater stress on their way to work than commuters using public transport. Heavy traffic and traffic jams during rush hour contribute significantly to this experience.

For commuters in rural areas, however, the opposite is true: evidently, there is an increased level of stress among commuters using train or bus. This is due to the often poorly developed or infrequently running connections. “The results are also reflected in the commuters’ behaviour: In the city, a large number of commuters make use of public transport, and in the countryside there is a strong emphasis on individual transport,” explains Dr. Heiko Rüger, sociologist at the BiB.

For the study, long-distance commuters in Germany with at least two hours of daily travel time were questioned about their stress perception.

The picture shows a bar chart which illustrates the subjective stress perception according to means of transport and degree of urbanisation Subjective stress perception according to means of transport and degree of urbanisation

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© Federal Institute for Population Research - 2018