Operationalizing the Capabilities Approach for Modeling Household Welfare Shifts in Urban Systems: A Special Focus on the Transportation Outcomes of Urban Resettlement

  • Xin YangEmail author
  • Jennifer Day
Part of the Understanding Complex Systems book series (UCS)


This paper operationalizes the Sen-Nussbaum Capabilities Approach (CA) towards measuring household well-being shifts that occur in response to resettlement of urban households. In this chapter, household welfare (we often use the term ‘household well-being’ interchangeably) refers to the quality of people’s lives; urban resettlement is defined as the relocation of residence and/or jobs. With a particular focus on the accessibility and mobility outcomes of urban resettlement, this chapter provides a critical survey of the current quantitative modeling approaches to modelling the impacts of urban resettlement on household well-being. We identify major methodological limitations in the current quantitative approaches, including: (1) structural dependence on instrumental rationality as the guiding framework for representing people’s behavior and welfare after resettlement; and (2) neglect of agency and choice in evaluating the welfare outcomes of resettlement. We then argue that these methodological limitations can be ameliorated based on applying the CA. Our proposed CA-based quantitative models improve upon existing models by incorporating representation of: (1) the presence of a wider range of rationalities in people’s location and travel choices after resettlement, e.g., possible “suboptimal” choices that people may make due to constrains in their decision-making processes; (2) the plurality in agency, i.e., interpersonal diversity in viewing and pursuing well-being after resettlement; and (3) the critical role of real choice, i.e., having real opportunities to choose where to live and how to travel. Such modeling practices could better represent people’s reasons for making location and travel decisions after resettlement, thus generating a more reflective representation of resettlement-welfare outcomes.


Mode Choice Location Choice Capability Approach Housing Cost Urban Policy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Architecture, Building and PlanningThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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