Mobility Based on GPS Trajectory Data and Interviews: A Pilot Study to Understand the Differences between Lower-and Higher-Income Older Adults in Hong Kong

Yingqi Guo, Cheuk Yui Yeung, Geoff C.H. Chan, Qingsong Chang, Hector W.H. Tsang, Paul S.F. Yip (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Few studies have examined mobility from a social exclusion perspective. Limited mobility can restrict opportunities to interact with others and therefore may lead to social exclusion. This pilot study was designed to test the feasibility of integrating Global Positioning System (GPS) trajectory data and interview data to understand the different mobility patterns between lower-and higher-income older adults in Hong Kong and the potential reasons for and impacts of these differences. Lower-(n = 21) and higher-(n = 24) income adults aged 60 years of age or older in Hong Kong were recruited based on purposive sampling. They were asked to wear a GPS device for 7 days. Seven measures of mobility (four dimensions) were created based on GPS data and compared between lower-and higher-income older adults, including extensity (standard deviation ellipse, standard distance between all locations), intensity (time spent out of home, doing activities), diversity (number of locations), and non-exclusivity (time spent in public open spaces and places with higher public service provisions). It then administered semi-structured interviews to understand the determined differences. The activity spaces for lower-income older adults were, on average, smaller than those for higher-income older adults, but lower-income older adults spent significantly more time participating in out-of-home activities. They were more likely to be exposed to environments with similar socioeconomic characteristics as their own. The interviews showed that limited social networks and expenditure on transport were the two main factors associated with lower-income older adults having relatively fewer activity spaces, which may lead to further social exclusion. We recommend using GPS in daily life as a feasible way to capture the mobility patterns and using interviews to deeply understand the different patterns between lower-and higher-income older adults. Policy strategies aiming to improve the mobility of older might be helpful for further improving the social inclusion of lower-income older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5536
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2022


  • activity space
  • Global Positioning System (GPS)
  • Hong Kong
  • mobility
  • older adults
  • social exclusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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