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Effects of Transport Policies on Quality of Life

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  • Function Theory
  • Quality Of Life
  • Social Production
  • Sustainable Changes
  • Transport Policies
  • Ecology
  • Geography


It is widely acknowledged that the current transport system is not sustainable, especially given the many environmental problems caused by traffic and transport. Many policies aimed at reducing these problems are not implemented, because policy makers expect such policies will have negative effects on people’s quality of life. However, little is known about the perceived quality of life consequences of (environmentally) sustainable changes. Therefore, it is not clear whether such transport policies would significantly reduce people’s quality of life. This study examines the perceived consequences of transport policies on quality of life. In order to get a valid picture of effects of future environmental policies on life quality, a theoretical model is needed explaining how Quality of Life should be defined and operationalized. Furthermore, a model can describe how environmental policies may affect people’s life quality. The Social Production Function (SPF) theory (Lindenberg, 1986) could provide such a framework. This theory explains how individuals produce their well-being by trying to optimize achievement of two universal needs within the sets of resources and constraints they face. According to the SPF theory, the two universal needs that people try to achieve are on the one hand optimizing psychical well-being and on the other hand optimizing social well-being. An important strength of this theory is that a clear distinction is made between instrumental goals (e.g., comfort, status, affection), activities (e.g., driving a car) and resources (e.g., money, time, health) that may be used to fulfil these goals. This distinction between instrumental goals and means in order to reach these universal goals is often not made in studies on Quality of Life. The SPF theory has typically been applied to measure and monitor actual changes in Quality of Life (e.g., resulting from ageing, health problems), therefore this study will examine whether the SPF can be a useful framework to use for modelling Quality of Life for sustainability goals.Last year, the EU sponsored “ASses Implementations in the frame of the Cities of Tomorrow” (ASI) project started, which aims to examine effects on Quality of Life effects by implementing transport policies in more detail. In the ASI project, we will examine how changes in Quality of Life by the implementation of transport policies can be assessed in order to secure public acceptability and to promote sustainable transport systems. In March 2004 a mail survey will be conducted. This survey is based on SPF theory and is aimed to examine the perceived effects of sustainable transport policies on people’s Quality of Life in five EU countries (i.e., Austria, Czech Republic, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden). Amongst others, respondents will be asked how the use of various transport policies contributes to different quality of life aspects. A discussion about how to use the SPF theory in sustainability issues for future research is provided.

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