Socioeconomic status and mobility during the COVID-19 pandemic

An analysis of 8 large Latin American cities


  • José Daniel Aromí Universidad de Buenos Aires and Universidad Católica Argentina
  • María Paula Bonel Universidad de Buenos Aires
  • Julián Cristiá Inter-American Development Bank
  • Martí­n Llada Universidad de Buenos Aires
  • Luis Palomino Inter-American Development Bank



mobility, COVID-19, socioeconomic status


This study analyzes mobility patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic for 8 large Latin American cities. Indicators of mobility by socioeconomic status (SES) are generated by combining georeferenced mobile phone information with granular census data. Before the pandemic, a strong positive association between SES and mobility is documented. With the arrival of the pandemic, in most cases, a negative association between mobility and SES emerges. This new pattern is explained by a notably stronger reduction in mobility by high SES individuals. A comparison of mobility for SES decile 1 vs decile 10 shows that, on average, the reduction is 75\% larger in the case of decile 10. According to estimated lasso models, an indicator of government restrictions provides a parsimonious description of these heterogeneous responses. These estimations point to noticeable similarities in the patterns observed across the cities. We also explore how the median distance traveled changed for individuals that travel at least 1 km (the intensive margin). We find that the reduction in mobility in this indicator was larger for high-SES individuals compared to low-SES individuals in 6 out of 8 cities analyzed. The evidence is consistent with asymmetries in the feasibility of working from home and in the ability to smooth consumption under temporary income shocks.




How to Cite

Aromí, J. D., Bonel, M. P., Cristiá, J., Llada, M., & Palomino, L. (2022). Socioeconomic status and mobility during the COVID-19 pandemic: An analysis of 8 large Latin American cities. atin merican conomic eview, 31, 1–28.



Regular articles