The Challenge of Female Commuting for Partnership Stability

Monday, July 14, 2014: 6:10 PM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Stefanie KLEY , Social Sciences, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Johannes HUININK , Bremen University, Bremen, Germany
Michael FELDHAUS , Bremen University, Bremen, Germany
In modern societies, demands for spatial flexibility are omnipresent. In Germany, as in other European countries, commuting between home and the workplace is widespread. Women often neglect mobility demands when they have a partner and/or children because commuting adds an extra burden to those who are mainly responsible for the household. But of course there are women who are long-distance commuters, and there are some hints that commuting is as harmful as often feared. Recent findings about the impact of job related mobility on partnership stability show that long distance commuting of women increases the risk of separation for couples in Germany. The goal of this contribution is to get a deeper empirical insight in this coincidence and to explain the mechanisms behind this harmful effect.

This is possible by using the German family panel study (pairfam) which provides rich information on couples' dynamics and spatial mobility. Our contribution makes use of the first three waves of the panel. The sample consists of 2,500 women with partner aged 25 to 28 years and 35 to 38 years in the first wave. Using event-history models harmful effects of female long-distance commuting on partnership stability are replicated. In the next step, the data of the pairfam study concerning gender attitudes, employment and family preferences, and other psychological and relationship aspects are used to explain this effect. It is shown that commuting, employed to reconcile the new roles of women and men in family and working life, destabilizes couples' relationships under certain circumstances. The societal consequences and possible policy recommendations are discussed.