top of page

08 MAR 2024 (FRI) 16:00-17:30

Updated: Mar 15


Geography Distinguished Seminars Series

The Lockdown, (im)mobility, and health disparities in the Covid-19 pandemic in major American Cities

Date: 08 MAR 2024 (Friday)

Time: 16:00-17:30 (HKT)

Venue: Chamber, Faculty of Social Sciences, 11/F, The Jockey Club Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU



Much of the world has adopted unprecedented lockdown policies as the key method to mitigate the spread of COVID-19; yet their effect on pandemic outcomes remains largely unknown.  This research determines how mobility restriction policies shape intra-city health disparities in major American cities.  With a spatial method and multiple sources of data including cellphone mobility data, this research demonstrates the effectiveness of the stay-at-home order and working from home (WFH).   On average, people spent about 20% more time at home in 2020 than in the same period in 2019 and about 40% of people worked from home. Census tracts with people spending more time at home and with more people working from home generally have lower infection and death rates. However, vulnerable neighborhoods such as those with a higher concentration of minorities and poor households are less likely to reduce mobility and thus have higher infection and death rates.  In other words, the protective effect of the lockdown and working from home is weakened in vulnerable neighborhoods.  Physical infrastructure such as the public transit system and resident behaviors also shape pandemic outcomes and mediate the effect of mobility restrictions. This study demonstrates the relative effectiveness of the lockdown and WFH in mitigating pandemic outcomes and underscores the intersectionality between mobility restrictions, race/ethnicity, and resident behaviors. Through the lens of mobility, this research advances our knowledge of health disparities by focusing on the institutional sources of health disparities. 

Professor Youqin Huang

Professor and Chair of Geography and Planning, University at Albany, State University of New York

Professor Youqin Huang is a Professor and Chair of Geography and Planning, and incoming Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Success at University at Albany, State University of New York.  She received her B.S. in geography from Peking University in 1992, M.A. and Ph.D. in Geography from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1997 and 2001, respectively.  


Her research aims to understand the impact of socioeconomic transformation and government policies, focusing on housing, migration, and health and wellbeing.  She is the (co-)author/(co-)editor of ten books/edited volumes, including Housing Inequality in Chinese Cities (2014), Confronting the Challenges of Urbanization in China: Insights from Social Science Perspectives (Routledge, 2016), Chinese Cities in the 21st Century (2020), China’s Geography: Globalization and the Dynamics of Political, Economic and Social Change (2021).  She has also published many papers in leading journals in geography, housing, and urban studies, including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), The China Quarterly, Annals of American Association of Geographers, Urban Studies, Cities, Housing Studies, Environment and Planning A, and B.   Her research was supported by different agencies, including NIH, NSF and AAAS, and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.


She has devoted herself to promoting research on urban China and to fostering the next generation of China scholars.  Currently she is the Co-Director of Urban China Research Network (UCRN), Vice-President of the Research Committee on Housing and Built Environment (RC 43) of International Sociological Association, and a Standing Board member of Research Grants Council of University Grants Committee of Hong Kong.  She has been a member of Editorial Board for various journals including Annals of the American Association of Geographers, Housing Policy Debate, Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, Transactions in Planning and Urban Studies, and China Perspective.  She also served as the Chair and Vice Chair of China Geography Specialty Group (CGSG) of Association of American Geographers (AAG) (2005-2007), and Director of Confucius Institute at UAlbany (2016-2021).


 She received many awards, including “President’s Excellence Award in Research and Creative Activities” (2023) and “President’s Award for Exemplary Public Engagement” (2020) by UAlbany, “Outstanding Service Award” by the American Association of Geographers (AAG) China Geography Specialty Group (CGSG) (2019), and “Outstanding Service Award” by the Chinese Community Center of the Capital District of New York (2019).


bottom of page