Operationalizing the Capabilities Approach for Urban Policy Evaluation: The Travel Welfare Impacts of Government Job Resettlement

  • Xin Yang University of Melbourne
  • Jennifer Day University of Melbourne
Keywords: Job Resettlement, Travel Welfare, Travel Well-Being, Capabilities Approach, Policy Evaluation, New Towns


This paper operationalizes the Sen-Nussbaum Capabilities Approach (CA) towards measuring household travel welfare shifts after relocating government jobs to China’s new towns. As a major type of urban decentralization practice, government job resettlement (GJR) programs have been implemented in several Chinese cities in an attempt to provide seed employment and population in new towns. Nevertheless, the travel welfare impacts of GJR programs are largely under-examined. In this paper, we make the first attempt by proposing a quantitative modelling approach to examining how households undergoing GJR programs have experienced changes in their travel welfare after job resettlement. We contend that travel welfare evaluation should be extended from the current paradigm that focuses on subjective feelings (e.g., satisfaction and happiness) about travel activities and objective measures of trip characteristics (e.g., travel time, travel costs and travel mode choices). We argue that the current evaluative framework can be enhanced by operationalizing the CA. That is, re-conceptualizing travel welfare as having real opportunities or freedom to achieve valuable doings and beings that people have reason to value for their own travel activities. We further propose our CA-based modeling approach and illustrate its promise in correcting some of the conceptual errors in the current travel-welfare models.


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