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Studies Find Long Commutes Make People More Unhappy

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Anyone who's wasted away hours of their life in traffic on the Capital Beltway can relate to this: psychologists say the activity that takes away from our daily happiness more than any other is commuting.

Long commutes are stressful, make us fatter and harm our marriages. A slew of recent studies detail the negative consequences. According to the blog "Priceonomics," all the time traveling back and forth to work takes away time from things that would actually make us happier, like spending time with our families.

"People are not actually making what we call rational decisions about it," says Rachel Weinberger, a transportation consultant and the co-author of Auto Motives: Understanding Car Use Behavior.

What she means by "rational decisions" is some commuters value the short-term benefits of a long car commute — such as being able to own a larger house in the country — more than the long-term consequences, like poor heath and stress.

So what this really points to is a lack of housing variety closer in.

Research by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has found that D.C. area commuters want options to driving — like better rail and bus service.

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