Does the relative importance of tacit knowledge explain occupational variations in work at home?

Authors: Pengyu Zhu*, , Peter Gordon, Professor Emeritus
Topics: Transportation Geography, Urban Geography, United States
Keywords: Work at home, information exchange, mode choice, telecommuting, telecommunication
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Poydras, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Who is best able to substitute working at home for going to work via traditional modes? People interact by exchanging tacit as well as codified information. The former usually requires face-to-face interactions. Are individuals more likely to work at home if their jobs involve the latter information exchange? Using the Census Bureau’s ACS files, we analyze eight-year data for choice of mode (including working-at-home) by occupation and year and major metropolitan area. Occupations can be identified by importance of face-to-face interactions. We conduct Anova as well as Probit tests to sort out the competing effects. We find that occupational differences matter. They explain more than the year or the metropolitan area where respondents live and work. The occupations that matter most in explaining the likelihood to work at home are the ones where face-to-face interactions are plausibly least important. Occupation explains more than metropolitan area type (transit legacy or not, land use regulation approach, using categories in recent Brookings study). Planners have been looking for ways to limit (even reverse) the growth of commuting via private car. The growth of job-related telecommunication may be the answer. It is important to understand which groups are most likely to avail themselves of this option. We find that people working in the computing and mathematical modeling are most likely to work at home. This is also one of the fastest growing occupations, suggesting the telecommuting will grow. Other fields may find ways to adapt to modern communications opportunities.

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