COVID-19 is linked to changes in the time–space dimension of human mobility

Clodomir Santana, Federico Botta, Hugo Barbosa, Filippo Privitera, Ronaldo Menezes & Riccardo Di Clemente
Nature Human Behaviour
July 27, 2023


Socio-economic constructs and urban topology are crucial drivers of human mobility patterns. During the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, these patterns were reshaped in their components: the spatial dimension represented by the daily travelled distance, and the temporal dimension expressed as the synchronization time of commuting routines. Here, leveraging location-based data from de-identified mobile phone users, we observed that, during lockdowns restrictions, the decrease of spatial mobility is interwoven with the emergence of asynchronous mobility dynamics. The lifting of restriction in urban mobility allowed a faster recovery of the spatial dimension compared with the temporal one. Moreover, the recovery in mobility was different depending on urbanization levels and economic stratification. In rural and low-income areas, the spatial mobility dimension suffered a more considerable disruption when compared with urbanized and high-income areas. In contrast, the temporal dimension was more affected in urbanized and high-income areas than in rural and low-income areas.

Related publications