Towards a capability approach to mobility – An analysis of disparities in mobility opportunities among older people

Jean Ryan, doctoral thesis, Lund University, 2019.

The overall aim of this thesis is to gain a clearer picture of the differences in mobility among the young-old living in Sweden’s large metropolitan regions. This thesis comprises four papers. Paper I explores the inclusion of public transport as an element of mobility among the young-old living in the Stockholm region. Paper II presents an analysis of cycling among older people in the city of Malmö. The third paper explores the links between modal options and the potential to participate in everyday activities among those aged 65–79 and living in Sweden’s large metropolitan regions (Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö), while Paper IV investigates differences in the potential to carry out everyday activities of value among the young-old living in these same three regions. The results from Paper I highlight that increasing residential density, being a woman and having a higher functional capacity were associated with a positive increase in the likelihood of considering it possible to use, and the use of, public transport, while most of those who included public transport as a mobility element were also users of the private car. For Paper II, cycling was found to be a facilitator of activities and was largely associated with convenience and ease. There were clear differences between cyclists and non-cyclists, with the former generally having a wider range of mobility opportunities available to them. Cycling cessation was anticipated as a distressing, yet inevitable, life event. The findings from Paper III show that there was a lower level of satisfaction with both the quantity and quality of modal options among those who do not have public transport as a modal option. The results suggest that those who do not have public transport as a modal option are less inclined to have the capability to carry out all everyday activities of value. The absence of having the possibility to carry out active physical exercise was rather apparent, with several highlighting health and/or transport-related issues as barriers. For Paper IV, clear links were identified between social resources, holding a driving license, access to public transport, income, health condition and age and the potential to carry out everyday activities of value. These results bring us closer to understanding the role different modal options can have in facilitating continued participation in society among older people. These results call for a greater focus to be placed on potential mobility and its role in facilitating activities of value in order to allow for a more detailed approach to transport equity analyses. As such, more targeted and integrated policy measures can be developed. 

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