Unequal Response to Mobility Restrictions: Evidence from the COVID-19 Lockdown in the City of Bogotá

Feb 21, 2022

This paper examines the efficacy of government-mandated mobility restrictions on curbing urban mobility, paying special attention to spatial heterogeneity in lockdown compliance. In particular, it explores the role of cash subsidies disbursed during lockdown as well as socio-economic differences across neighbourhoods to explain their unequal response to mobility restrictions.

To do so, it relies on novel data showing changes in movement at highly disaggregated spatial levels in Bogot., before and during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, matched with data on socio-economic characteristics and non-pharmaceutical interventions implemented in the period of analysis. Findings indicate that the general lockdown imposed in the city significantly reduced mobility (by about 41 percentage points). In terms of the unequal response across locations, the findings indicate that low-income areas with higher population density, informality and overcrowding reacted less to mobility restrictions. In this regard, despite government efforts, the findings indicate that cash subsidies were not sufficient to make compliance easier in low-income neighbourhoods.

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