12 February 2014
Office for National Statistics | 4
those who do, when all other variables in the model have been held constant. The comparisons are
therefore between two people who are otherwise the same in every respect apart from the particular
characteristic or circumstance being considered. This helps to isolate the effects of the characteristic
or experience being considered, in this case commuting, on personal well-being.
In order to give a sense of the size of the relationship between each characteristic included in the
model and personal well-being, we have used the following size classification:
•Large - a difference of 1.0 points or more between the average rating of the reference group and
the group being studied after controlling for other factors
•Moderate - 0.5 points < 1.0 points difference between the groups
•Small - 0.1 points < 0.5 points difference between the groups
•Very small - a difference of less than 0.10 points but which is still statistically significant.
The classifications summarise the size of the difference between how an individual with the
characteristic or experience being considered, for example a specific commuting time, would rate
their well-being compared to someone from a specified reference group, all else being equal.
When results are referred to as ‘significant at the 5% level’, this means there is a probability of less
than 0.05 (or less than one in twenty) that the result could have occurred by chance.
4. Does commuting matter to personal well-being?
Commuting can be regarded as a burden. However, individuals may choose to commute if
compensated for doing so (for example by higher income or a larger house). This analysis explores
whether all the burdens of commuting are indeed fully compensated by such factors1. If they are,
then we would not expect to see any statistically significant associations between commuting and
personal well-being in the tables and figures that follow.
The analysis clearly indicates an association between commuting and personal well-being after
controlling for a range of individual characteristics2. The remaining sections of the report compare
the experiences of those who commute to work with those who do not and the relationship of
commuting with personal well-being. They also look at the personal well-being of those who
commute for different periods of time. Results are then interpreted along with suggestions as to why
individuals may choose to commute to work even though they may not be fully compensated for the
burden of doing so.
4.1 Commuting versus non-commuting
Comparing the personal well-being of those who regularly travel to work (commuters) versus those
who work from home in their main job (non-commuters), Figure 1 shows that commuters were on
• less satisfied with their lives,
• rated their daily activities as less worthwhile, and
• reported less happiness and higher anxiety than non-commuters.