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Literature review on urban transport equity in transitional China: From empirical studies to universal knowledge

Mengzhu Zhang and Pengjun Zhao

Journal of Transport Geography, 2021, vol. 96, issue C

Abstract: Rapid urbanization and a drastic socioeconomic transition from the centrally planned system to a market system in China provide a rare opportunity of observing urban transport equity. Literature on urban transport equity in Chinese cities is increasing. However, our understanding of urban transport equity in China is dominated by individual empirical studies, and an overall picture remains absent. This paper contributes the first literature review on urban transport equity in transitional China. Two key questions are answered. They are how transport equity is understood and examined in China, and what progress can be made to obtain universal knowledge of urban transport equity. This paper addresses the two questions by engaging with recent theoretical dialogue between the political philosophy of justice and Western transport equity research. This theoretical dialogue reconceptualizes transport equity into the equitable accessibility distribution mediated by institutional architecture to achieve equality of social opportunity among people. Based on a critical review of equity-concerned China transportation research and its reconceptualization, we propose an agenda for furthering urban transport equity research in transitional China. This research agenda calls for a shifted research focus (a) on evaluating the accessibility distribution of specific transport projects and policy, (b) on unpacking the political economy of transitional urban transport governance that determines the triumph/failure of the pro-growth/pro-equity accessibility distribution in the real setting, (c) on tracking the impact of accessibility distribution on disadvantaged groups' socioeconomic status and social mobility and putting forward appropriate policy/institution to improve the accessibility of disadvantaged groups, and (d) on revealing how the emerging social trends (e.g., information technology revolution and the aging society) reshape the individual capability to move/accessibility distribution.

Keywords: Transport equity; Transport inequity; Distributive justice; Accessibility; Mobility; China (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2021.103177

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