Does new information technology change commuting behavior

Sergejs Gubins, Thomas de Graaff, Jos van Ommeren
(2017) Working paper


We estimate the long-run causal effect of information technology, i.e. Internet and powerful computers, on average commuting distance within professions in the Netherlands. We employ data for two years—1996 when information technology was hardly adopted and 2010 when information technology was widely used in a wide range of professions. Variation in information technology adoption over time and between professions allows us to infer the causal effect of interest using difference-in-differences techniques combined with propensity score matching. Our results show that the long-run causal effect of information technology on commuting distance is too small to be identified and likely to be absent. This suggests that, contrary to the assertions by public opinion makers, the advent of information technology did not have a profound impact on the spatial structure of the labor market.