Changes in commuting mode and the relationship with psychological stress: A quasi-longitudinal analysis in urbanizing China

Yinhua Tao*, Maarten van Ham, Ana Petrović

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Emerging longitudinal research on the relationship between commuting mode and psychological wellbeing draws exclusively from cities in developed countries and the findings are not consistent. Our study contributes to the evidence base from urban China, where rapid urban growth has raised great concerns for urbanites’ commuting problems and psychological stress risks. Drawing upon the China Health and Nutrition Survey (2006–2015), we followed a quasi-longitudinal design to examine changes in commuting mode and the associations with long-term psychological stress. Crucially, the neighbourhood-level urbanicity scale was incorporated to analyse geographic variations in the commuting-stress relationship over time. The results show that maintaining car commuting and long-duration active commuting were associated with lower levels of psychological stress, while long-duration motorised commuting trips by car or public transport were predictive of higher stress levels. Moreover, high-urbanicity areas involved more active commuting trips and short motorised commuting trips, which were beneficial to long-term psychological wellbeing. In contrast, the commuting-related stress risks were noticeable in medium urbanicity areas, where the commuting duration by public transport was extremely high. Based on the socio-institutional context of urban growth in China, we recommend that urban governments should change the focus from expanding urban development land to improving urban amenities and urbanites’ wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100667
Number of pages9
JournalTravel Behaviour and Society
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Commuting behavior
  • Developing countries
  • Health
  • Longitudinal designs
  • Subjective well-being
  • Urban growth


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