Urban Mobility and the Experienced Isolation of Students and Adults
Do urban children live more segregated lives than urban adults? Using cellphone location data and following the ‘experienced isolation’ methodology of Athey et al. (2021), we compare the isolation of students over the age of 16—who we identify based on their time spent at a high school—and adults. We find that students in cities experience significantly less integration in their day-to-day lives than adults. The average student experiences 27% more isolation outside of the home than the average adult. Even when comparing students and adults living in the same neighborhood, exposure to devices associated with a different race is 20% lower for students. Looking at more broad measures of urban mobility, we find that students spend more time at home, more time closer to home when they do leave the house, and less time at school than adults spend at work. Finally, we find correlational evidence that neighborhoods with more geographic mobility today also had more intergenerational income mobility in the past. We hope future work will more rigorously test the hypothesis that different geographic mobility patterns for children and adults can explain why urban density appears to boost adult wages but reduce intergenerational income mobility.
This project was reviewed and approved by the Stanford Institutional Review Board (protocol IRB-62185). Glaeser acknowledges support from the Star Family Challenge for Promising Scientific Research. We thank Allison Arieff, Kiran Jain, and Alexei Pozdnoukhov at Replica for facilitating access to the data. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Cody Cook was a paid intern at Replica during the summer of 2020. He received no compensation for his work on this or other research projects using their data. Replica did not ask for nor receive any editorial oversight in either the topic selection or the analyses conducted.Edward L. Glaeser
I have received speaking fees from organizations that organize members that invest in real estate markets, including the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers and the Pension Real Estate Association.