Culture and the cross-country differences in the gender commuting gap

Marcén, M., & Morales, M. (2021). Culture and the cross-country differences in the gender commuting gap. Journal of Transport Geography, 96, 103184.



This paper explores the role of the gender equality culture in cross-country gender commuting gap differences. To avoid inter-relationships between culture, institutions, and economic conditions in a simple cross-country analysis, we adopt the epidemiological approach. We merge data from the American Time Use Survey for the years 2006–2019 on early-arrival first-generation immigrants and second-generation Americans (U.S.-born children of immigrants) living in the United States with their corresponding annual country of ancestry's Gender Gap Index (GGI). Because all these individuals (with different cultural backgrounds) have grown up under the same laws, institutions, and economic conditions in the US, the gender differences among them in the time devoted to commuting to/from work can be interpreted as evidence of the existence of a cultural impact. Our results show that a culture with more gender equality in the country of ancestry may reduce the gender commuting gap of parents. Specifically, an increase of one standard deviation in the GGI (cultural proxy) increases women's daily commuting time relative to that of men by almost 6 min, a sizeable effect representing 26% of the standard deviation in the gender commuting gap across countries of ancestry. A supplementary analysis provides possible mechanisms through which culture operates and is transmitted. Our results are robust to the use of different subsamples, geographical controls, and selection into employment and telework.


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