Social Dimensions of Transport – a resource for Social Impact Appraisals


This document was written as a social impact appraisal to support the design of new transport research business cases. As a summary of key evidence on the social dimensions of transport, it provides a platform for further research, programme design or business case development.

This document outlines the links between poor connectivity and poverty. It covers the social welfare benefits of transport, focusing on health, education, access to markets and improved livelihood opportunities (Section 2). It also examines the distributional impacts of transport interventions, considering gender, income groups, people with disabilities and children (Section 3).

Transport infrastructure is an important part of the picture. However, connectivity and access to services and markets also relies on the availability of affordable and reliable transport services. This appraisal considers the importance of transport services to social welfare (Section 2.3).

While transport interventions can deliver improved social welfare outcomes, they also carry associated risks. For example low income and middle income countries account for 92 percent of global road fatalities, despite owning only 53 percent of the world’s motor vehicles. The social risks and undesirable outcomes of transport interventions are explored along with mitigation suggestions and examples of good practice (Section 4).

In addition, there are two sections which address programme operation and design. An overview of public works programmes is provided to give a framework for assessing the relevance of labour-intensive intervention strategies (Section 5). There is also a Checklist to ensure that social development concerns are sufficiently integrated into the design of both programmes and research (Section 6).

A Resource Matrix has also been produced to accompany this appraisal. It summarises key arguments of all works cited to facilitate further research.


Norman, K. Social Dimensions of Transport – a resource for Social Impact Appraisals. (2013) 29 pp.

Published 1 January 2013