Man Holding Bicycle

Uncovering socioeconomic gaps in mobility reduction during the COVID-19 pandemic using location data

Using smartphone location data from Colombia, Mexico, and Indonesia, we investigate how non-pharmaceutical policy interventions intended to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic impact human mobility. In all three countries, we find that following the implementation of mobility restriction measures, human movement decreased substantially. Importantly, we also uncover large and persistent differences in mobility reduction between wealth groups: on average, users in the top decile of wealth reduced their mobility up to twice as much as users in the bottom decile. For decision-makers seeking to efficiently allocate resources to response efforts, these findings highlight that smartphone location data can be leveraged to tailor policies to the needs of specific socioeconomic groups, especially the most vulnerable.