Friday, May 15, 2020

Surprise: The Wealthy Fled New York City as the Coronavirus Broke Out

Yeah, big surprise here.

At NYT, "The Richest Neighborhoods Emptied Out Most as Coronavirus Hit New York City":

Hundreds of thousands of New York City residents, in particular those from the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods, left as the coronavirus pandemic hit, an analysis of multiple sources of aggregated smartphone location data has found.

Roughly 5 percent of residents — or about 420,000 people — left the city between March 1 and May 1. In the city’s very wealthiest blocks, in neighborhoods like the Upper East Side, the West Village, SoHo and Brooklyn Heights, residential population decreased by 40 percent or more, while the rest of the city saw comparably modest changes.

Some of these areas are typically home to lots of students, many of whom left as colleges and universities closed; other residents might have left to care for friends or family members across the country. But, on average, income is a strong simple predictor of a neighborhood’s change: The higher-earning a neighborhood is, the more likely it is to have emptied out.

Relatively few residents from blocks with median household incomes of about $90,000 or less (in the 80th percentile or lower) left New York. This migration out of the city began in mid-March, and accelerated in the days after March 15, when Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he was closing the city’s schools.

The highest-earning neighborhoods emptied first.

“There is a way that these crises fall with a different weight on people based on social class,” said Kim Phillips-Fein, a history professor at New York University and author of a book about how New York changed during the fiscal crisis of the 1970s. “Even though there’s a strong rhetoric of ‘We’re all in it together,’ that’s not really the case.”

These estimates are based on data provided by Descartes Labs, a geospatial analysis company.

Descartes Labs used anonymized smartphone location data to find a large sample of New York City residents — not commuters or tourists — based on where they lived during a two-week period in February. They then analyzed their aggregate movements as the pandemic hit and whether they had left the city. The sample was about 140,000 residents, including residents from nearly every populated census tract in the city.

Smartphone location data is imperfect. It misses people who don’t own a smartphone. It requires guesses about who is a resident rather than a visitor or commuter. It relies on the kinds of apps that track and transmit a user’s precise location. And it is unlikely to be perfectly representative of the general population.

But it can be more useful than other methods to measure quick changes in population on a large scale...
Interestingly, that 420,000 who left is the exact same number of all the Chinese who flew into the country before President Trump banned flights from China.

Keep reading.