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Cities in Post-Pandemic China

Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic on Intercity Mobility Patterns, Migration-Related Attitudes, and Urban Governance

Hengyu Gu

Mayo 2023, inglés

The new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has swept the world since 2020, causing considerable attention from academia, media, and policymakers. Entering the post-pandemic era, despite the COVID-19 outbreaks that seem to past in most countries, how and to what extent the pandemic reshapes our lives have come to be a heating research topic in urban studies and human geography. While the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on intercity mobility has been given much academic attention, few studies have provided a comprehensive understanding of the implicit influence of the pandemic on long-term human movements and settlement choices, which may matter for policymakers on urban governance in the post-pandemic era. Using a multi-stage perspective, supported by daily location-based service (LBS) data on intercity mobility from 2019 to 2022, the paper elaborates on the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on intercity mobility and migration-related attitudes of residents in China. It is found that, during the pandemic, daily intercity mobility has decreased by 4.47% compared to before the pandemic, and such decreases are mainly seen in the First Wave (26.15%) and Omicron (22.91%) stages. The spatial patterns of intercity mobility in different pandemic stages remain stable even though the mobility volumes have decreased. The results from the Pseudo-Maximum Likelihood Estimation (PPML) gravity modelling show that the pandemic has negatively impacted both the inflow and outflow intercity mobility in the First Wave and Omicron stages and that the influences of friction of distance, tourism attractions, and transportation facilities have also decreased in these two stages. Besides, the paper finds that the pandemic has increased people’s willingness to move out in eastern coastal cities, while in other cities, such willingness remains relatively unchanged compared to before the pandemic. Our findings give insights into urban governance in post-pandemic cities in China, revealing the residence of intercity mobility in the face of the pandemic and attaching importance to focusing on people’s migration attitudes in the post-pandemic era