AirTalk for November 25, 2013

Politically apathetic? Maybe it’s your commute, study suggests



A new study suggests that long commutes can make us more apathetic when it comes to politics.

No one knows better than an Angeleno the soul-sucking nature of the daily commute. Battling the freeway maze can leave you exhausted at the end of the day, and according to a recent study, it might also leave you politically apathetic -- especially if you’re poor.

Results from a survey of 590 working adults revealed that those who reported longer commutes also said that they were less involved in politics -- an effect that becomes more magnified the further down the socioeconomic ladder you look.

And it’s not just a matter of having less time to be involved, the study’s authors say. If it were, those who worked longer hours would experience a similar decline in political engagement (they didn’t).

Instead, the study points to the unique mental burden of commuting as a cause for political disengagement, and commuters who are poorer to start have less psychological resources at the end of the day to engage.

Patrick Lown, PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at Stony Brook University, and one of the authors of “The ‘Daily Grind’: Work, Commuting, and their Impact on Political Participation”

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