Aggravated social segregation during the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence from crowdsourced mobility data in twelve most populated U.S. metropolitan areas

Xiao Li, Xiao Huang, Dongying Li, Yang Xu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

Abstract

The notion of social segregation refers to the degrees of separation between socially different population groups. Many studies have examined spatial and residential separations among different socioeconomic or racial populations. However, with the advancement of transportation and communication technologies, people's activities and social interactions are no longer limited to their residential areas. Therefore, there is a growing necessity to investigate social segregation from a mobility perspective by analyzing people's mobility patterns. Taking advantage of crowdsourced mobility data derived from 45 million mobile devices, we innovatively quantify social segregation for the twelve most populated U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). We analyze the mobility patterns between different communities within each MSA to assess their separations for two years. Meanwhile, we particularly explore the dynamics of social segregation impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The results demonstrate that New York and Washington D.C. are the most and least segregated MSA respectively among the twelve MSAs. Since the COVID-19 began, six of the twelve MSAs experienced a statistically significant increase in segregation. This study also shows that, within each MSA, the most and least vulnerable groups of communities are prone to interacting with their similar communities, indicating a higher degree of social segregation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103869
JournalSustainable Cities and Society
Volume81
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Mobility homophily
  • Smartphone data
  • Social segregation
  • Social vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Transportation

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