A commute of 45 minutes carries such a cost to well-being that economists have found you have to earn 20 percent more to make the trip worth it. Length alone isn’t the source of the problem: stress rises with a commute’s variability, and for transit riders it rises with the unpredictability and overcrowding of a bus or train.
Some of the study’s more precise results are particularly intriguing. (It’s important first to note the researchers divided commute lengths into just three groups: under 30 minutes, 30-60 minutes, over an hour.) For instance, the sleep quality, stress, and general health of transit users worsened as their commute length increased. But, interestingly, those outcomes were worse for drivers in the 30 to 60 minute range than in the hour-plus range. In other words, people who drove more than an hour to work slept better and were healthier, on average, than someone who drove 45 minutes.
At first glance this seems encouraging, but the researchers suggest it is a mirage of their particular population sample. In this part of Sweden most people driving about a half hour to work will be navigating city congestion. But those driving more than an hour are most likely heading to another part of the country along routes the researchers describe as “tranquil countryside driving.” Some parts of that commute might even be relaxing. The researchers also raise the possibility of an additional explanation: the so-called “healthy commuter effect,” which suggests that only people who are psychologically and physically fit enough to endure an hour-long drive to work actually stick to it over time.
Good example for insights generated from facts/figures!