National movement patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic in New Zealand: The unexplored role of neighbourhood deprivation

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  • Malcolm Campbell, University of Canterbury
  • ,
  • Lukas Marek, University of Canterbury
  • ,
  • Jesse Wiki, University of Canterbury
  • ,
  • Matthew Hobbs, University of Canterbury
  • ,
  • Clive E. Sabel
  • John McCarthy, Ministry of Health New Zealand
  • ,
  • Simon Kingham, University of Canterbury

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has asked unprecedented questions of governments around the world. Policy responses have disrupted usual patterns of movement in society, locally and globally, with resultant impacts on national economies and human well-being. These interventions have primarily centred on enforcing lockdowns and introducing social distancing recommendations, leading to questions of trust and competency around the role of institutions and the administrative apparatus of state. This study demonstrates the unequal societal impacts in population movement during a national lockdown'. Methods: We use nationwide mobile phone movement data to quantify the effect of an enforced lockdown on population mobility by neighbourhood deprivation using an ecological study design. We then derive a mobility index using anonymised aggregated population counts for each neighbourhood (2253 Census Statistical Areas; mean population n=2086) of national hourly mobile phone location data (7.45 million records, 1 March 2020-20 July 2020) for New Zealand (NZ). Results: Curtailing movement has highlighted and exacerbated underlying social and spatial inequalities. Our analysis reveals the unequal movements during € lockdown' by neighbourhood socioeconomic status in NZ. Conclusion: In understanding inequalities in neighbourhood movements, we are contributing critical new evidence to the policy debate about the impact(s) and efficacy of national, regional or local lockdowns which have sparked such controversy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • deprivation, neighborhood/place, public health, public health policy, spatial analysis

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