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Gender and cross-border commuting in a Swedish-Norwegian context: strategies, obstacles and possibilities
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Centre for Research on Regional Development. (Cerut)
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Centre for Research on Regional Development. (Cerut)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1532-8474
2014 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study explores gendered commuting patterns in a Swedish-Norwegian border region. In Swedish Värmland, 5462 inhabitants commuted to Norway in 2009, of which a significant share (36 percent) represented commuters from Torsby, Eda and Årjäng municipalities. Cross-border commuting is here defined as work related mobility across a national border, including daily and weekly mobility. Previous studies have shown that cross-border commuting may be beneficial for the ‘sending’ municipalities, contributing to a low unemployment rate, local tax revenues, fewer social allowances and even a healthier population. Research has described cross-border commuting as a deliberately chosen lifestyle, as well as being driven by economic motives in terms of higher Norwegian salaries. Statistics show that men are overrepresented both as ‘ordinary’ commuters on a national scale as well as cross-border commuters. Moreover, women constitute only 30 percent of cross-border commuters compared to 40 percent of commuters crossing a municipal border. Previous research has shown that men commute farther and more frequent compared to women due to women’s family obligations and everyday life puzzle strategies. Few studies have explored gendered commuting patterns in border regions and how women and men’s participation in cross-border commuting vary depending on distance, motives, experiences, possibilities and obstacles.  

The purpose of this study is to analyse the patterns of cross-border commuting with a focus on women’s and men’s motives, strategies and conditions for commuting from Sweden to Norway. The research questions include; what differences and similarities of men and women’s commuting can be distinguished in terms of age, family, income and other social factors? How do women and men experience the effects of their commuting on their everyday life, including participation in their family life, social relations and domestic responsibilities? The study is based on both quantitative and qualitative data, comprising a survey of cross-border commuters in Årjäng, Eda and Torsby municipalities as well as interviews with cross-border commuting women and men. One central question includes how women’s and men’s commuting patterns reflect existing spatial gender and intersectionality contracts. An intersectionality perspective is here used to study the interrelations between gender and other social variables such as class, ethnicity and age. These are (re)produced and negotiated in a place specific and socio-cultural context, affecting relations in the family, the local community and the labour market.   

The results of the study point to that the higher wages in Norway are of relevance for both women and men’s motives to seek employment in Norway. In the interview study, women described the higher wages as important markers of independence, both in relation to their husbands and in relation to the local community. Single mothers describe the possibility to work part-time due to higher wages, while commuting a shorter distance, which in turn improves their work-life balance. Still, the salaries have spatial and occupational variations, partly due to that women tend to work closer to the border where the salaries are lower. Partly, cross-border commuting reflect gender coded occupations between women and men, where women’s work within public services are lower paid compared to sectors such as construction work where men are overrepresented. Women spend less time on daily commuting compared to men, which can be related to their family obligations. This is evident also within weekly commuting. In the survey, men are highly overrepresented as weekly commuters, while none of the weekly commuting women have children in their household.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014.
Keyword [en]
Cross-border commuting
National Category
Human Geography Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-34327OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-34327DiVA, id: diva2:755172
Conference
“Diverse regions: building resilient communities and territories”, Regional Studies Association. Izmir, Turkey June 15-18.
Available from: 2014-10-14 Created: 2014-10-14 Last updated: 2016-10-13Bibliographically approved

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