The impact of family status on black, white, and hispanic women's commuting

Valerie Preston, Sara McLafferty, Ellen Hamilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The relationship between women's domestic labor and employment in the paid labor force is central to current debates about gender inequities in occupations and incomes. Recent studies of gender differences in commuting argue that women reduce the journey to work to accommodate the demands of family responsibilities. The empirical evidence, however, is mixed. Equal numbers of studies have reported significant andinsignificant relationships between average commuting times and various measures of domestic responsibilities. Few of these studies have examined the implications of parenthood and, particularly, single parenthood, for the commuting patterns of women from various racial and ethnic backgrounds. Women who are single parents may work closer to home than other women because of their substantial domestic responsibilities. On the other hand, as sole wage earners, single parents may travel long times to obtain better paid employment. Using information about a sample of women in the New York Consolidated Metropolitan Area, we compared the average commuting times of black, Hispanic, and white women from single and two-parent households. The presence and ages of children significantly reduced all women's commuting times, although the effects of parenthood were muted for minority women. Single mothers commuted longer than married mothers, but the size of the disparity depended upon a woman's racial/ethnic background and place of residence. All single mothers commuted shorter times in the suburbs than at the center, but the differences were greatest for minority women living in the suburbs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)228-250
Number of pages23
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The impact of family status on black, white, and hispanic women's commuting'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this