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A major expression of social inequality is residential segregation, for example when people of different class backgrounds live in different neighborhoods. Racial segregation is another feature of inequality in American neighborhoods. Do these differences align with how people move about and engage with different areas of the city? What is the relationship between residential social isolation and contact well beyond the confines of where one lives? While researchers have identified consistent patterns in everyday urban mobility, few have systematically examined whether that consistency transcends economic and racial differences. BARI researchers are analyzing everyday mobility patterns in the 50 U.S. largest cities and their commuting zones based on over 650 million geo-tagged micro-messages from Twitter collected over an 18-month period. A key paper describing these results is available from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS, 2018).

Read the paper here, and watch a visualization of the method used here.

Urban Mobility and Neighborhood Isolation in America’s 50 Largest Cities

Authors: Qi Wang1, Nolan Edward Phillips2, Mario L. Small2, Robert J. Sampson2

The Future of Mobility in the Boston Region - Meeting of ...


  1. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Northeastern University, Boston, 02115.
  2. Department of Sociology, Harvard University, Cambridge, 02138.