IZA DP No. 15332: Commuting to Work and Gender-Conforming Social Norms: Evidence from Same-Sex Couples
We assess the role of gender-conforming social norms in household decision-making and gender inequalities in the labor market with a parsimonious household model that endogenizes commuting time. Using the American Community Survey 2008-2019, we test the model predictions and find that women in same-sex couples have a longer commute to work than working women in different-sex couples, whereas the commute to work of men in same-sex couples is shorter than the one of working men in different-sex couples, even after controlling for demographic characteristics, partner’s characteristics, location, fertility, and marital status. These differences among men and women amount to 50%, and 100%, respectively, of the gender commuting gap estimated in the literature, and are particularly stark among married couples with children. Within-couple gaps in commuting time are also significantly smaller in same-sex couples, and labor supply disparities mimic the commuting ones. According to our model, these differences are interpreted as gender-conforming social norms leading women in different-sex couples into jobs with a shorter commute and fewer hours worked while their male partners/spouses hold jobs with a longer commute and more hours worked, thus reinforcing gender inequalities.