Geographic Mobility in America: Evidence from Cell Phone Data
Traveling beyond the immediate surroundings of one’s residence can lead to greater exposure to new ideas and information, jobs, and greater transmission of disease. In this paper, we document the geographic mobility of individuals in the U.S., and how this mobility varies across U.S. cities, regions, and income classes. Using geolocation data for ~1.7 million smartphone users over a 10-month period, we compute different measures of mobility, including the total distance traveled, the median daily distance traveled, the maximum distance traveled from one’s home, and the number of unique haunts visited. We find large differences across cities and income groups. For example, people in New York travel 38% fewer total kilometers and visit 14% fewer block-sized areas than people in Atlanta. And, individuals in the bottom income quartile travel 12% less overall and visit 13% fewer total locations than the top income quartile.
Both authors contributed equally to this work and names are displayed in alphabetical order. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.