Social Justice Research

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 66-84

First online:

When Are Transport Pricing Policies Fair and Acceptable?

  • Geertje SchuitemaAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of GroningenAarhus School of Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus University Email author 
  • , Linda StegAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Groningen
  • , Monique van KruiningAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Groningen

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This study examines the relative importance of six policy outcomes related to different fairness principles for the perceived fairness and acceptability of pricing policies aimed at changing transport behaviour. The fairness and acceptability of six different types of transport pricing policies were systematically higher if policy outcomes were related to environmental justice and equality. The policy measures were evaluated as more acceptable and fair when respondents believed that future generations, nature and the environment were protected (reflecting environmental justice), and to a lesser extent, when everybody was equally affected by the policy outcomes (reflecting equality), irrespective of absolute differences in fairness and acceptability of the policies. Policy outcomes reflecting egoistic concerns (e.g. being financially worse off and being worse off than others) and equity (e.g. proportional to people’s income and contribution to problems) were related to the fairness and acceptability of some policy measures, but no systematic pattern was found across six policy measures. This suggests that policy outcomes related to distributions that focus on collective considerations appear to be more important for the fairness and acceptability of transport pricing policies than those focusing on individual interests. Theoretical and practical implications of these results are discussed.


Acceptability Fairness Fairness principles Policies Transport