In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists in China have used farecard data to reveal the dynamic relationships between jobs, housing location and commute times.
Given a choice, most people would like to reduce the time they spend commuting to work. Therefore, there is a complex interaction between choice of housing location, job opportunities and transport systems within a state or country. In the present study, a research team led by Professor Wang Jiaoe and Dr. Huang Jie from the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, investigated job and housing dynamics according to individual mobility.
The researchers used seven years of data from transit smartcards belonging to cardholders in Beijing, China, to track boarding and alighting stations, which were associated with home and work location. The study tracked who moved and who remained at their residences and workplaces.
The study identified 4,248 commuters who made transit trips at least four days in one week over seven years. The researchers found that individuals with commutes longer than 45 minutes changed workplaces or residences to reduce their travel time.
On the contrary, individuals with commutes shorter than 45 minutes tended to increase their travel time for better jobs and residences. Overall, 45 minutes is an inflection point, where the behavioral preference changes.
The researchers also classified commuters into four mobility groups: stayers, home movers, switchers and job hoppers. They found that stayers—individuals who remained at the same residence and workplace over seven years—were more likely than other groups to have shorter commutes and to be home-owners with middle-to-high-range incomes.
On the other hand, home movers—individuals who changed residences but remained at the same workplace—had middle-range incomes and upgraded from tenancy to ownership, which lengthened their commutes. Meanwhile, switchers—individuals who changed both residences and workplaces—tended to move into more expensive homes, which increased their commute times.
The researchers noted an emerging convergence between the behaviors of switchers and stayers. Last but not least, the researchers reported that individuals who frequently changed workplaces but stayed at the same residences—the job hoppers—suffered from long commutes and housing issues. They tended to be migrants with temporary employment and low wages.
According to the researchers, their study shows that job and housing dynamics are useful in mobility group characterization and travel times can significantly influence job and housing choices. (Asian Scientist )
The article can be found at: Huang et al. (2018) Tracking Job and Housing Dynamics With Smartcard Data. PNAS. (https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1815928115)