Special Issue "Evaluating the Socioeconomic Impact of Infrastructure Investment in an Uncertain World"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 September 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Asst. Prof. Zhenhua Chen
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
City and Regional Planning, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, 43210, USA
Interests: regional economic impact analysis; transportation infrastructure; risk and resilience; big data analytics
Prof. Dr. Hongchang Li
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Economics and Management, Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing 100044, China
Interests: transportation economics and policy; high speed railway; government governance
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Roger W. Vickerman
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
School of Economics, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7FS, UK;Transport Strategy Centre, Imperial College, London, SW7 2AZ, UK
Interests: transport economics; regional development; European integration

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Infrastructure investment plays an indispensable role in promoting regional economic growth and improving the quality of life. A valid understanding of the socioeconomic impact of transportation infrastructure is fundamental, as it helps government and investment agencies not only justify the return to the investment being deployed, it also facilitates rational decision-making for future investment. While many previous studies have attempted to evaluate the socioeconomic impact of infrastructure investment from both ex-ante and ex-post perspectives, the comprehensive understanding of the extent to which the infrastructure development has affected or is expected to affect society, the economy, and quality of life remains limited. Part of the reason for this is because the world is changing dynamically due to the influences of climate change, geopolitical conflict and cooperation among countries and regions, uncertainty, and policy changes.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has further enlarged the challenges of infrastructure development. While infrastructure investment strategies in some countries are focused on short-term bailouts as a stimulus for economic growth (especially in relation to recovery from the economic impacts of COVID-19), to what extent the sustainability in the provision of public transport services (urban transit, international airline) and the long-term survival of services can be ensured remains unclear. These disturbances have made an accurate assessment and understanding of the socioeconomic impacts of infrastructure investment prohibitively challenging.

In addition, due to the rapid development and adoption of new services and technologies, such as high-speed rail, autonomous vehicles, 5G telecommunication, and Hyperloop systems, new opportunities for infrastructure investment were generated. However, our understanding of the wider socioeconomic impact of the investments in these domains remains scant. Furthermore, while countries in the developing world still suffer from a lack of infrastructure investment to support the rapidly rising demand of socioeconomic activities, other nations in the developed world and the emerging economies (e.g., Brazil, Russia, India, China) also experienced unprecedented challenges of maintaining the equity, resilience, and sustainability of infrastructure planning, finance, operation, and maintenance. Hence, it becomes imperative to develop new knowledge and approaches in order to foster sound strategies to achieve the sustainable development of infrastructure in an uncertain world.

We invite submissions that explore issues related to social, economic, and environmental and comprehensive impact assessment of infrastructure investment, using new data, methods, and concepts. Potential topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Impact assessment of mega-infrastructure projects (e.g., transcontinental railways, urban intelligent transport systems, water conservancy dams);
  • Assessment of the investment in developing resilient infrastructure systems;
  • The socioeconomic impacts of investment in developing new infrastructure systems, (e.g., UAVs, autonomous vehicles, 5G telecommunication, Hyperloop);
  • Impacts of COVID-19 on infrastructure investment (including highway, rail, transit, and airport), and the impact of infrastructure investment in the era of COVID-19;
  • Financial sustainability of infrastructure investment;
  • Impact assessment of infrastructure investment on economic disparity, social equity, and quality of life;
  • Evaluation of the longevity in both the planning and life cycle of infrastructure;
  • New approaches (e.g., new data and methods) for infrastructure investment appraisals; and
  • Government governance, risk control, and policy innovations for infrastructure investment.

To facilitate the development of this Special Issue, special sessions will be hosted at the International Association of China Planning (IACP) annual conference in July 2021 (tentative and subject to change). Please note, however, that this Special Issue is open to all scholars, regardless of their participation in the special sessions.


  • Call for papers for this Sustainability SI: 15 December 2020
  • Full manuscript submission to Sustainability open: 1 February 2021
  • Special session at the International Association of China Planning (IACP) annual conference:  July 2021 (tentative and subject to change)
  • Full manuscript submission to Sustainability due: 1 September 2021

All submitted papers should address significant issues pertinent to the themes of this special Issue and fall within the scope of Sustainability. All final submissions must be original and may not be under review by any other journals. Acceptance for publication will be based on referees’ and editors’ recommendations following a standard peer-review process. Criteria for acceptance include originality, contribution, methodology, and scientific merit. All submissions and inquiries should be directed to the attention of Guest Editors.

Asst. Prof. Zhenhua Chen
Prof. Dr. Hongchang Li
Prof. Dr. Roger W. Vickerman
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • socioeconomic impact
  • life-cycle assessment
  • regional disparity
  • infrastructure investment
  • uncertainty
  • sustainability

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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