The capability approach and social equity in transport: Understanding factors affecting capabilities of urban residents, using structural equation modeling

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - urban, place - asia, planning - surveys, planning - methods, policy - equity, policy - environment


Accessibility, Capability approach, Structural equation modeling, Sufficientarianism, Urban transport planning


Transport planning has recently gained increased attention due to its potential alignment with human-centered justice theories, particularly the Capability Approach. However, the existing literature lacks quantitative measurements of the interaction between effective factors that contribute to the development of individuals' capabilities, specifically for those living in urban areas. This study aims to address this gap by proposing a bottom-up model within the general framework of the capability approach and sufficientarianism. Through a survey of 1096 individuals in Tehran, Iran, this research examines the impact of individual characteristics, the living environment, and transport and mobility options on residents' capabilities using the Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) technique. Therefore, the study evaluates one model for the entire population and two sub-groups defined by high and low capability levels. The findings indicate that individual characteristics significantly predict the level of capabilities, with a stronger effect observed in the low-capability group. Also, individual characteristics positively affect the environmental constructs, with a stronger effect observed among the low-capability group. Importantly, the low-capability group experiences a mismatch between their level of education, job status, and income level. Regarding environmental factors, the road network, public transport performance, land use-transport system integration, land use diversity, and land use spatial distribution exhibit a considerable relationship with residents' capabilities. Additionally, it has been demonstrated that active transport modes have a greater impact on the capabilities of low-capability groups. These findings provide valuable insights for policymakers to develop a just prioritization process for urban transport planning.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


Transport Policy Home Page: