Revisiting urban sustainability from access to jobs : Assessment of economic gain versus loss of social equity

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number106456
Journal / PublicationEnvironmental Impact Assessment Review
Online published31 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


This study has aided an understanding of how the built environment impacts multiple facets of sustainability from perspective of job access that potentially assist in environmental protection, economic development, and social justice. However, the latter two contributions entail tradeoffs that are little-discussed in empirical research. We elaborate upon the manner in which job access affects economic and social sustainability and focus on tradeoffs between the two. We measure and characterize the impact of job access on housing prices and the spatial distribution of disadvantaged populations across New York City, using census data. Results document not only that there are significant positive effects of job access on housing but also that higher housing prices screen out disadvantaged populations and undermine social equity. Findings highlight the paradox in sustainable development that job access seldom exhibits simultaneous positive effects on economic and social equity. We propose that urban built environment might have sigificantimpact on and might be a solution to the tension between economic benefits and social loss regarding job accessibility. That is, appropriate spatial land use planning and public policies could maximize individual welfare and sustainability for future cities-a new perspective of achieving urban sustainability. The major challenge is finding a workable balance between economic and social sustainability that is theoretically sound and empirically feasible.

Research Area(s)

  • Economic development, Job access, Social equity, Sustainability, Urban built environment