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Perceived liveability, transport, and mental health: A story of overlying inequalities

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Natalia Villamizar DuarteORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


IntroductionThis paper examines the links between perceived liveability and mental health, questioning the role transport-related variables and features of the built environment play in the relationship between the two concepts. By exploring a topic not often tackled from the perspective of transport and health studies, the paper positions the concept of perceived liveability as a mechanism to capture the subjective interpretations of the built environment by residents of different socioeconomic backgrounds and mobility behaviours. MethodsThe paper uses Cali, Colombia as an example of a rapidly growing city in the global South. We analyse data collected from an online participatory planning instrument where over 300 participants responded to questions on their mental health and their perceptions of the built environment, urban design, access to leisure facilities, and so forth. We use a Structural Equations Model that incorporates mental health and perceived liveability as latent variables. The paper also draws from secondary data to map both the spatial distribution of the various determinants of perceived liveability as well as the scores of the two latent constructs analysed. ResultsWe demonstrate that perceived liveability can be expressed as a latent variable, causing scores and correlations in measured variables associated with the urban form, the environment, access to transport, and fear of crime. On the whole, higher liveability scores are linked with higher mental health scores, and car users tend to score higher in both perceived liveability and mental health scores. ConclusionsThere are meaningful links between perceived liveability and mental health influenced by transport-related drivers such as mode choice. Findings concerning car users suggest that transport investments in cities like Cali tend to accommodate already socio-economically advantaged residents. When testing our hypothesis that proximity to mass transit infrastructure could increase liveability, the results were inconclusive, which suggests a limited “liveability footprint” of public transport infrastructure.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Oviedo D, Sabogal O, Villamizar Duarte N, Chong AZW

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Transport & Health

Year: 2022

Volume: 27

Print publication date: 01/12/2022

Online publication date: 07/10/2022

Acceptance date: 30/09/2022

Date deposited: 03/02/2023

ISSN (print): 2214-1405

ISSN (electronic): 2214-1413

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.jth.2022.101513


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