Inequalities in sustainable transport use in Aotearoa New Zealand: gender, intersectionality, and commuting using sustainable modes
Background: Sustainable transport (ST) offers significant public health benefit. Increasing ST-use, as an alternative to motor-vehicle transport, is a significant strategy for reducing/mitigating environmental damage. Furthermore, ST is an effective strategy to combat physical inactivity and the negative health outcomes related to this. Finally, ST-use has numerous social benefits by facilitating social interactions and therefore helping to build social capital.Because ST has numerous public health benefits for individuals, communities, and the planet, a deeper understanding of trends and inequities is extremely important. Understanding how gender, especially when examined from an intersectional perspective, taking into account ethnicity and socioeconomic status (SES), connect to determine transport use will shed light on some of the barriers and enablers to ST-use.Methods: I performed a cross-sectional study using data from three different Censuses – Census 2001, Census 2006 and Census 2013. The Census collects data on many aspects of NZ life, including travel-to-work. I analysed respondents’ answers to this question, looking specifically at people who cycled, used public transport (public bus or train) (PT) or walked/jogged to work. I compared the prevalence of cycling, PT-use and walking to work between women and men, overall and in different groups: women and men of different ethnicities, and different NZDep quintiles. I compared use of each mode across each group over time to see if there were changes in ST-use between 2001 and 2013. I also performed logistic regression to further investigate the association between gender and ST mode choice. I controlled for demographic variables, SES variables and household characteristics.ResultsCycling, PT or walking were not common modes of transport among men or women. Women, regardless of ethnicity or SES or Census year, were more likely to use PT or walk to commute Men, regardless of SES or ethnicity or Census year, were more likely to cycle to work. Although women were less likely to cycle compared to men, they were more likely to use sustainable modes overall. However, despite these consistent trends across ethnic group and NZDep quintiles, ST-use did differ by sociodemographic group and by gender within each sociodemographic group. DiscussionStrategies need to be introduced to increase ST-use. However, for strategies to be effective, they need to take into account the differences in ST-use among New Zealand’s population. This research showed that there are significant differences in ST-use between women and men. Furthermore, this research also showed the importance of approaching gender from an intersectional perspective when investigating gendered associations with ST as ST-use varied by ethnicity and NZDep quintile within each gender and by gender within each ethnic group and NZDep quintile. Many of the differences in ST-use are connected to how gender (from an intersectional perspective) operates in society, effecting social processes on individual, interactional and institutional-levels. Strategies to increase ST-use must address these multi-level gendered barriers and enablers of ST-use. I discuss three potential strategies to increase ST-use in New Zealand, in light of my findings: further research, high-quality infrastructure and approaching transport as a social policy.
Advisor: Shaw, Caroline; Keal, Michael
Degree Name: Master of Public Health
Degree Discipline: Department of Public Health, Wellington
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Public Health; Sustainable transport; Active transport; Cycling; Walking; Public transport; Gender; Ethnicity; Socioeconomic status; Socioeconomic position; intersectionality; new Zealand
Research Type: Thesis