Transport poverty in Chinese cities : A systematic literature review

Weichang Kong, Dorina Pojani, Neil Sipe, Dominic Stead*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
197 Downloads (Pure)


The widening income gap in post-reform China has given rise to social inequality. Among those, transport poverty and inequality have significantly affected the daily life of low-income groups. While important, this is an under-researched topic in China. This gap in the academic literature is glaring given the country’s urbanization rates, sprawling cities and income differentials. Most previous studies have only focused on two aspects of transport poverty—job-housing imbalance and accessibility. A comprehensive understanding of the causes and impacts of transport inequality is currently lacking. Therefore, a systematic review of academic literature based on keywords relevant to transport poverty in China was conducted to provide a more complete assessment of the situation in Chinese cities. In total, 62 relevant studies were identified after close examination of the articles (including titles, abstracts, and full-texts). This set of articles allowed a number of general patterns to be identified. It was found that the most common causes of transport poverty include: a lack of access to private vehicles; uneven access to alternative transport options; inadequate public transport provision; jobs-housing imbalance; and the hukou system (a system of household registration which aims to regulate population distribution and rural-to-urban migration). The main impacts of transport poverty include: curtailed mobility and longer travel times; higher household expenditures on travel; reduced access to jobs and essential services; higher household expenditures on travel; and health and environmental issues.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4707
Number of pages24
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021
MoE publication typeA2 Review article, Literature review, Systematic review


  • China
  • Inequality
  • Systematic review
  • Transport poverty


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