Volume 40 - Article 36 | Pages 1047–1062  

Gender-specific effects of commuting and relocation on a couple's social life

By Natascha Nisic, Stefanie Kley

This article is part of the Special Collection 24 "Spatial mobility, family dynamics, and gender relations"


Background: This contribution analyzes gender-specific effects of long-distance commuting and residential relocation on the social integration of couples. Research on geographical mobility in the partnership context focused very much on gender differences of regional mobility with respect to labor market outcomes and economic success. The effects of regional mobility and their possibly gendered impact on social networks and the social integration of households have been understudied. However, one would expect that regional mobility imposes severe temporal and geographical restrictions on the formation and upholding of social relationships. Moreover, these restrictions can be assumed to differ by gender due to differential involvement of women and men in market and domestic care work, which also present different opportunities and constraints for maintaining and forming social contacts.

Objective: Against this background we analyze the effects of internal migration and job-related commuting on couples’ social relationships.

Methods: The analysis is based on the British Household Panel Study (BHPS) waves 1997–2008. We first give extensive descriptive overview on the social structure of mobile couples and the amount and perceived quality of social contacts men and women maintain. Second the effects on quality (i.e., the satisfaction with one’s social life) are analyzed within a panel fixed-effects framework.

Results: Results indicate that regional mobility affects women more than men. In particular women who move for her partner’s job prospects suffer losses in perceived quality of social life. Female commuters are dissatisfied if they have low qualification and are only weakly integrated in the labor market. Among male commuters time restrictions due to high workload are detrimental to their social life.

Contribution: This contribution gives new insights on gender-specific dynamics of commuting and relocation and their gendered impact on social integration.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Does moving for family nest-building inhibit mothers' labour force (re-)entry?
Volume 40 - Article 7

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