Published:  12:40 AM, 13 November 2018

Childcare constraints forcing more women to work closer to home

Gender commuting gap shows women across UK more likely to live 15 minutes from work

 Childcare constraints forcing more women to work closer to home

Jasper Jolly

A disproportionate share of childcare responsibilities results in women working closer to the home, potentially contributing to the gender pay gap, new data has revealed. Women in every region of the UK apart from London are more likely than men to live within a 15-minute commute to their place of work, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The pattern is reversed for longer commutes, adding to a so-called gender commuting gap. Some 61% of commuters who travel for more than an hour are men, the data shows. In the east of England men represent more than three-quarters of those who spend more than an hour travelling.

The constraint on commuting longer distances is thought by economists to be one of multiple contributing factors to the gender pay gap, as women are limited in their choice of work, even if it pays more. Analysis of similar data by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) thinktank shows that the difference in commuting times is largely driven by women working closer to home in the decade after having their first child. Fatherhood has little effect on men's travel times.

Agnes Norris Keiller, a research economist at the IFS, said the gender commuting gap "closely mirrors the gender wage gap", although economists have yet to establish a direct causal link. "There are several reasons why shorter commutes might constrain women's wages," she said. "All the major UK political parties are committed to reducing the gender wage gap - so more evidence is needed to shed light on how it's linked to commuting patterns."

The rise of the gender commuting gap comes in the context of rapidly increasing commuting times for people of all genders. The number of people spending more than an hour on their commute has risen by almost a third since 2011, the ONS said. The figures echo previous findings by the Trade Union Congress, which found a similar 31% rise in the number of two-hour slogs to work between 2011 and 2016.

Despite the overall UK gender commuting gap, the rise of longer commutes by London's women is the driving force behind the broader increase in travel times. The number of women travelling more than an hour to work in the capital has increased by 46% in the last seven years, the ONS said. We have a small favor to ask. Three years ago, we set out to make The Guardian sustainable by deepening our relationship with our readers. 

The revenues provided by our print newspaper had diminished. The same technologies that connected us with a global audience also shifted advertising revenues away from news publishers. We decided to seek an approach that would allow us to keep our journalism open and accessible to everyone, regardless of where they live or what they can afford.

And now for the good news. Thanks to all the readers who have supported our independent, investigative journalism through contributions, membership or subscriptions, we are overcoming the perilous financial situation we faced. Three years ago we had 200,000 supporters; today we have been supported by over 900,000 individuals from around the world. 

We stand a fighting chance and our future is starting to look brighter. But we have to maintain and build on that level of support for every year to come. Sustained support from our readers enables us to continue pursuing difficult stories in challenging times of political upheaval, when factual reporting has never been more critical. 

The Guardian is editorially independent - our journalism is free from commercial bias and not influenced by billionaire owners, politicians or shareholders. No one edits our editor. No one steers our opinion. This is important because it enables us to give a voice to the voiceless, challenge the powerful and hold them to account. Readers' support means we can continue bringing The Guardian's independent journalism to the world


The writer is a financial reporter for the Guardian

Leave Your Comments



Latest News


More From Reciprocal

Go to Home Page »

Site Index The Asian Age