Job-induced Commuting between Two Residences – Characteristics of a Multilocational Living Arrangement in the Late Modernity
Against the background of the ongoing flexibilisation of labour markets and a rising labour force participation of (highly) qualified women, job-related commuting between a main and secondary residence has become more important in Western capitalist countries as is the case in contemporary Germany. The limited number of recent empirical studies on this kind of multilocational living arrangement almost entirely focuses on commuters in couple/family households. The main objective of this article is, firstly, to provide data about the characteristics and formation contexts of job-related multilocational household organisations as a whole, in order to make a contribution to the discussion of the forms and causes of this currently important phenomenon. Secondly, by means of comparison analyses, the multilocational form of living is compared to the group of long-distance movers, in order to provide insights into who prefers commuting to migration with the complete household under which circumstances. The article draws on data of a field research study, which have been obtained from an individual based random sample from official registers of inhabitants of four metropolises in Germany. The sample was restricted to individuals with specific characteristics (in-movers, age 25 to 59). The fully structured postal interviews were complemented by qualitative telephone interviews with selected commuters. The results show that commuters are a heterogeneous group. Living in a partnership and the social connections established thereby play a prominent role for multilocational household organisations. Among male commuters, one can distinguish between those who are young, never married and predominantly childless, on the one hand, and a group of older married commuters with children in the household, on the other. The vast majority of female commuters, however, live childless. As men commute between two residences even if they live with a family, they significantly more often have a job-related secondary residence than women. Late modern characteristics of job-related multilocational living arrangements are dual earner households for male commuters and high occupational positions for female commuters. The commuting between two accommodations is strongly connected to the career entry, on the one hand, and is also important in a later occupational career phase as a partly longer-lasting period, on the other hand. It may be suggested that the rise of fix-term employment will further increase the importance of multilocational living arrangements in Late Modernity.