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Pollution for the environment and health: More and more Germans commute to work


Health at risk: the number of commuters in Germany has risen to a new record high
More and more employees in Germany have to go to another municipality to get to their work. Around 60 percent of employees in Germany are now commuters - a new record. This is a major burden on the environment and also on the health of those affected.

60 percent of German workers are commuters
The number of commuters in Germany rose to a new record last year. While 53 percent of all employees commuted in 2000, the last figure was 60 percent. This emerges from an evaluation by the Federal Institute for Building, Urban and Spatial Research (BBSR). This not only has a negative impact on the environment, but also on the health of commuters.

Berlin registers strongest growth
As the BBSR reports in a message, a particularly large number of people commute to the big cities.

For example, two thirds of employees subject to social security contributions who work in the cities of Frankfurt am Main, Düsseldorf and Stuttgart live outside the city limits. Munich has the most commuters.

Around 355,000 people who lived outside the city limits worked there in 2016 - an increase of 21 percent since 2000. Frankfurt am Main follows with 348,000 commuters (plus 14 percent).

Berlin recorded the greatest growth: Here, the number of commuters increased by 53 percent compared to 2000 to 274,000.

Longer commutes
Not only the number of commuters, but also the average length of the easy commute has increased in recent years: from 14.6 kilometers in 2000 to 16.8 kilometers in 2015.

"The surrounding municipalities in particular benefit from the growth of the economically strong cities," said BBSR Director Herrmann.

“But there are also side effects that more and more employees live outside. The land use and the traffic load increase. It is therefore important that the infrastructure keeps pace with growth and that the surrounding area remains well connected to local public transport, ”says Herrmann.

High levels of particulate matter
The high volume of traffic places a great burden on the environment. For example, commuters in Stuttgart - one of the most severely affected cities - were asked last year to best leave their car in the event of a particulate matter alarm.

In 2030, the state capital of Baden-Württemberg will be one of Europe's cities with the greatest particulate pollution, as Austrian researchers have calculated. Commuting to work poses a health hazard.

"The available studies show that daily commuting mobility can endanger the physical and mental health of the workforce and has a negative impact on health perceptions," said Simon Pfaff from the Federal Institute for Population Research in Wiesbaden in a message from the dpa news agency.

"The longer the journey time of the employed, the greater the burden, also because there is less time to regenerate."

Mental illness through commuting
Health insurance companies have been dealing with the increased health risk of commuters for years.

An investigation by the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) years ago showed that commuting or frequent job changes and moving because of a new job are obviously the reasons why commuters often suffer from mental illness.

The much-touted “mobility and flexibility gets on people's nerves,” commented a spokeswoman at the time.

Affordable living in major cities
From IG Bau's perspective, the growing number of commuters is also a result of incorrect housing policies. "It is clear that the number of commuters will increase if even ordinary earners have to move out of the cities because of high rents," said Deputy IG BAU Federal President Dietmar Schäfers in a message.

“Commuting does not only cause harmful stress for those affected. It also pollutes the environment. What is the point of reducing working hours or making things more flexible if they are used up again due to long driving times, ”says Schäfers.

"We need a policy with the aim of enabling affordable living in metropolitan areas and metropolitan areas." It was a mistake to "privatize the apartments of the public sector and it was just as wrong to leave the housing question to the market for far too long" . (ad)

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