Influential research on the negative effects of living in a disadvantaged neighborhood assumes that its residents are socially isolated from nonpoor or “mainstream” neighborhoods, but the extent and nature of such isolation remain in question. We develop a test of neighborhood isolation that improves on static measures derived from commonly used census reports by leveraging fine-grained dynamic data on the everyday movement of residents in America’s 50 largest cities. We analyze 650 million geocoded Twitter messages to estimate the home locations and travel patterns of almost 400,000 residents over 18 mo. We find surprisingly high consistency across neighborhoods of different race and income characteristics in the average travel distance (radius) and number of neighborhoods traveled to (spread) in the metropolitan region; however, we uncover notable differences in the composition of the neighborhoods visited. Residents of primarily black and Hispanic neighborhoods—whether poor or not—are far less exposed to either nonpoor or white middle-class neighborhoods than residents of primarily white neighborhoods. These large racial differences are notable given recent declines in segregation and the increasing diversity of American cities. We also find that white poor neighborhoods are substantially isolated from nonpoor white neighborhoods. The results suggest that even though residents of disadvantagedmore »
High-resolution human mobility data reveal race and wealth disparities in disaster evacuation patterns
Abstract Major disasters such as extreme weather events can magnify and exacerbate pre-existing social disparities, with disadvantaged populations bearing disproportionate costs. Despite the implications for equity and emergency planning, we lack a quantitative understanding of how these social fault lines translate to different behaviours in large-scale emergency contexts. Here we investigate this problem in the context of Hurricane Harvey, using over 30 million anonymized GPS records from over 150,000 opted-in users in the Greater Houston Area to quantify patterns of disaster-inflicted relocation activities before, during, and after the shock. We show that evacuation distance is highly homogenous across individuals from different types of neighbourhoods classified by race and wealth, obeying a truncated power-law distribution. Yet here the similarities end: we find that both race and wealth strongly impact evacuation patterns, with disadvantaged minority populations less likely to evacuate than wealthier white residents. Finally, there are considerable discrepancies in terms of departure and return times by race and wealth, with strong social cohesion among evacuees from advantaged neighbourhoods in their destination choices. These empirical findings bring new insights into mobility and evacuations, providing policy recommendations for residents, decision-makers, and disaster managers alike.
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