The roads one must walk down: Commute and depression for Beijing's residents

Elsevier, Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, Volume 109, August 2022
Wang X., Liu T.

As a vital aspect of individual's quality of life, mental health has been included as an important component of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. This study focuses on a specific aspect of mental health: depression, and examines its relationship with commute patterns. Using survey data from 1,528 residents in Beijing, China, we find that every 10 additional minutes of commute time is associated with 1.1% higher probability of depression. We test for the mechanisms of the commute-depression link and find that commute is associated with depression as a direct stressor rather than triggering higher work stress. When decomposing commute time into mode-specific time, we found that time on mopeds/motorcycles has the strongest association with depression. Moreover, the commute-depression associations are stronger for older workers and blue-collar workers. Hence, policies that could reduce commute time, encourage work from home, improve job-housing balance or increase motorcyclists’ safety would help promote mental health.