Distance between home and work: A multilevel analysis of individual workers, neighbourhoods, and employment sites in Northern Ireland

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    Abstract. We explore the distances between home and work for employees at twenty-eight different employment sites across Northern Ireland. Substantively, this is important for better understanding the geography of labour catchments. Methodologically, with data on the distances between place of residence (566 wards) and place of work for some 15 000 workers, and the use of multilevel modelling (MLM), the analysis adds to the evidence derived from other census-based and survey-based studies. Descriptive analysis is supplemented with MLM that simultaneously explores individual, neighbourhood, and site variations in travel-to-work patterns using hierarchical and cross-classified model specifications, including individual and ecological predictor variables (and their cross-level interactions). In doing so we apportion variability to different levels and spatial contexts, and also outline the factors that shape spatial mobility. We find, as expected, that factors such as gender and occupation influence the distance between home and work, and also confirm the importance of neighbourhood characteristics (such as population density observed in ecological analyses at ward level) in shaping individual outcomes, with major differences found between urban and rural locations. Beyond this, the analysis of variability also points to the relative significance of residential location, with less individual variability in travel-to-work distance between workers within wards than within employment sites. We conclude by suggesting that, whilst some general ‘rules’ about the factors that shape labour catchments are possible (eg workers in rural areas and in higher occupations travel further than others), the complex variability between places highlighted by the MLM analysis illustrates the salience of place-specific uniqueness.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1221-1238
    Number of pages18
    JournalEnvironment and Planning A
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 2010

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
    • Geography, Planning and Development


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