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The impact of transport on subjective well-being.

posted on 27.02.2017, 22:27 by Delbosc, Alexa
This thesis explores the influence that transport can have on psychological well¬being. Measures of well-being, quality of life and happiness are gradually being adopted as outcome metrics in such diverse areas as economics, national benchmarking and public health. Yet despite this growing emphasis on the importance of psychological well-being, there is little attention devoted to how the transport system can influence life satisfaction. This thesis presents empirical evidence linking transport disadvantage to lower psychological well-being. It examines this relationship across three levels: at the conceptual level (exploring hypothetical relationships based on previous literature), the unidimensional level (establishing initial empirical links between transport disadvantage and subjective well-being) and the multidimensional level (disaggregating the factors that make up transport disadvantage and social exclusion to determine their separate and combined influences on subjective well-being). The thesis begins with Chapter 1 -Introduction, which describes the background, motivation, and objectives of the thesis. This is followed by Chapter 2 -Literature Review, which builds on past research to outline a conceptual framework for how transport can act on well-being. This section also describes the shift from using solely economic indicators in policy and planning toward integrating social indicators such as quality of life and subjective well-being. A literature review paper is presented as evidence supporting the conceptual framework. A description of the research approach follows in Chapter 3 -Research Methods, which describes the survey instrument used to collect data on transport disadvantage, well-being and other concepts. It describes the survey methodology and the sampling method employed. It is supported by a paper describing the practical difficulties in recruiting disadvantaged people for large-scale surveys of this type. It closes with a brief outline of three analysis methods used in the thesis. Chapter 4 Unidimensional Analysis presents the first empirical analysis linking transport disadvantage to well-being using a heterogeneous population from Melbourne and regional Victoria. Structural equation modelling is used to operationalise 'transport disadvantage' and 'subjective well-being' as unified constructs. The research paper presented in this section identifies the overall strength of the relationship between the two constructs. Chapter 5 -Multidimensional Analysis is supported by three journal papers and looks at different sub-components impacting the relationship between transport and well-being. The first two papers in this series explore the multi-faceted nature of transport disadvantage and social exclusion into greater depth to assess the variation in impacts on well-being. The third paper spatially disaggregates the survey sample to explore the spatial variation of transport disadvantage. The thesis concludes with Chapter 6 -Discussion & Conclusions by highlighting the new contributions to knowledge identified in the thesis. It compares the empirical findings of Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 to the conceptual framework established in Chapter 2 in order to highlight areas of future research.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Graham Currie

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Civil Engineering


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Engineering