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Social capital and local public transportation in Japan


  • Utsunomiya, Kiyohito


Local public transportation except in metropolitan areas in Japan faces operating difficulties due to business deficits. In recent years, central and local governments have taken social benefits into account to support local public transportation, but social benefits calculated in their cost-benefit analyses seem to be insufficient to evaluate them. Especially since the great earthquake in 2011, Japanese people have begun to rethink the importance of network and trust in neighborhoods, which can be called as ‘social capital,’ based on mobility. Therefore, focusing on ‘social capital,’ this paper tries to find the role of local public transportation beyond social benefits. Specifically, it makes an empirical analysis on the relationship between the indexes of ‘social capital’ and local bus services using cross section data. As a result, network and participation indexes standing for ‘social capital’ in each prefecture positively correlate with the level of local bus services. Also, according to our survey research in Toyama, introduction of a new LRT line is likely to have considerably changed the activities of residents along the line and has tended to promote more opportunities to come into contact with others than before. Those studies shed light on the role of public transportation from the standpoint of ‘social capital.’

Suggested Citation

  • Utsunomiya, Kiyohito, 2016. "Social capital and local public transportation in Japan," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 434-440.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:retrec:v:59:y:2016:i:c:p:434-440
    DOI: 10.1016/j.retrec.2016.02.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John Stanley & David A. Hensher & Janet Stanley & Graham Currie & William H. Greene & Dianne Vella-Brodrick, 2011. "Social Exclusion and the Value of Mobility," Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, University of Bath, vol. 45(2), pages 197-222, May.
    2. Stanley, John K. & Hensher, David A. & Stanley, Janet R. & Vella-Brodrick, Dianne, 2011. "Mobility, social exclusion and well-being: Exploring the links," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 45(8), pages 789-801, October.
    3. John Stanley & Janet Stanley & David Hensher, 2012. "Mobility, Social Capital and Sense of Community: What Value?," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 49(16), pages 3595-3609, December.
    4. Stanley, Janet & Stanley, John & Vella-Brodrick, Dianne & Currie, Graham, 2010. "The place of transport in facilitating social inclusion via the mediating influence of social capital," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 280-286.
    5. repec:eee:jotrge:v:35:y:2014:i:c:p:144-155 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item


    Local public transportation; Social capital; Social exclusion; Japan; Transport policy;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • R40 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - General
    • R42 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government and Private Investment Analysis; Road Maintenance; Transportation Planning
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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