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

Nov 22, 2013


A new study suggests that long commutes can make us more apathetic when it comes to politics.; Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

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.

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