Even as New York reopens, a barren Midtown and fears about COVID variants point to big post-pandemic challenges. Though the city has imposed vaccination mandates, other aspects of everyday life are returning to normal. It’s likely that handshakes will come back, and Broadway and theater are returning as well, albeit with mask requirements. The pandemic even led to a few positive changes — the spread of open streets and outdoor dining around the city have improved livability.
But the coronavirus has left behind other, more persistent changes. The most salient is the new availability of remote work.
In the initial phase of the pandemic, the flexibility allowed by teleworking enabled many New Yorkers to leave the city entirely. In joint research with Vrinda Mittal, Jonas Peeters and Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, I found substantial shifts in migration to the nearby suburbs of large urban metropolitan areas. (We established migration through the use of mobile-phone geolocation data and change-of-address information.)
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