October 2015

IZA DP No. 9425: Excess Commuting in the US: Differences between the Self-Employed and Employees

published as "The commuting behavior of workers in the United States: differences between the employed and the self-employed" in: Journal of Transport Geography, 2018, 66, 19-29

In this paper, we propose a new spatial framework to model excess commuting of workers and we show empirical differences between the self-employed and employees in the US. In a theoretical framework where self-employed workers minimize their commuting time, employees do not minimize their commuting time because they lack full information, and thus the difference between the time devoted to commuting by self-employed workers and employees is modeled as wasteful commuting (i.e., excess commuting). We first formulate a microeconomic framework for commuting by modeling the location of individuals in urban cores surrounded by rings. Using the American Time Use Survey for the years 2003-2013, our empirical results show that employees spend twelve more minutes per day, or forty percent of the average commuting time, compared to their self-employed counterparts. This is consistent with our "diana" model, in that location is an important factor.