Couple Households and the Commuting Time–Gender Gap

Annie Seong Lee, Michael L. Lahr, Sicheng Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using the Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) 2014–2018, we examine whether the household responsibility hypothesis (HRH) remains in the United States, using commuting times. After dividing couple households into subgroups by relative income level and educational level, we find that couple members in a higher income quartile tend to spend more time commuting. This implies that the HRH only explains the situation of a couple in which the man earns more than the woman. Given that the share of this household type among couples has diminished over time, this suggests that gender inequality within households has improved. Nevertheless, couples in which men earn more than women still dominate. So, we find, overall, that women’s commuting times still tend to be shorter than men’s, regardless of their relative educational levels. Furthermore, we find that the commuting time–gender gap is generally somewhat larger for couple households with a minor child, because men’s commuting times tend only to be slightly greater than when no minor child is present. This implies that women are still taking on a larger burden of household responsibilities, while also providing some financial support for their families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalProfessional Geographer
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


  • commuting time
  • dual-earner couples
  • gender gap
  • household responsibility hypothesis


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