Measuring urban social sustainability: Scale development and validation

Taimaz Larimian, Arash Sadeghi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite the significant role of social sustainability in the sustainable development agenda, there is a lack of research to clearly define and fully operationalise the concept of urban social sustainability. The aim of this study is to contribute to the existing literature by developing a comprehensive measurement scale to assess urban social sustainability at the neighbourhood level. We argue that urban social sustainability is a multidimensional concept that incorporates six main dimensions of social interaction, sense of place, social participation, safety, social equity and neighbourhood satisfaction. Failure to consider each of these dimensions may lead to an incomplete picture of social sustainability. Validity, reliability and dimensionality of the urban social sustainability scale are examined using factor analysis. We also illustrate the application of the urban social sustainability scale by investigating the influence of quality of design, as one of the least studied factors of urban form, on different dimensions of social sustainability. The paper uses data collected from the household questionnaire survey in a sample of 251 respondents from five case study neighbourhoods of Dunedin city, New Zealand. This study provides new evidence on the significance of improving neighbourhood quality of design and its positive and significant relationship with different dimensions of social sustainability and the overall social sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-637
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science
Issue number4
Early online date17 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021

Bibliographical note

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  • New Zealand
  • Urban social sustainability
  • measurement scale
  • neighbourhood level
  • quality of design
  • urban form


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