Commuting behaviours and subjective wellbeing: a critical review of longitudinal research

Yinhua Tao*, Ana Petrović, Maarten van Ham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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The relationship between commuting behaviours and subjective wellbeing has been fascinating scholars of different disciplines. Especially in the last decade, longitudinal research designs have made great progress in identifying causality in the commuting-wellbeing relationship by focusing on within-individual variations over time. However, the results from longitudinal research are far from consistent and, therefore, questions remain unanswered regarding the association of motorised and long commuting journeys with subjective wellbeing in the long term. The aim of this literature review is to account for why these inconsistencies occur and to provide some avenues for future longitudinal research. We achieve this by developing theoretical conceptualisations of the commuting-wellbeing relationship from an interdisciplinary perspective, which drives the subsequent critical review of empirical longitudinal evidence based on nation/city-wide panel surveys, intervention experiments and relocation events. We recommend furture research to distinguish and integrate different processes that lead to changes in commuting behaviours, including environmental changes, information or participatory interventions, and the event of residential relocation together with other life events and long-term processes in life. This processual thinking will enrich the temporal scope of longitudinal research and contribute to a better understanding of the interdependent relationship between daily commuting behaviours and long-term subjective wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalTransport Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • causal relationships
  • longitudinal designs
  • mobility biographies
  • systematic review
  • Travel behaviour
  • well-being


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