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posted by hubie on Monday March 25, @03:49AM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

The next time you're on a walk, consider stopping by that restaurant you've never been to or the local store you keep meaning to check out. They just might be the key to a vibrant local economy, according to a new study.

In a surprise finding based on anonymized cell phone mobility records, infrequent trips to places like restaurants and sports facilities—not the everyday office visit or school drop-off—accounted for the majority of differences in economic outcomes between neighborhoods.

The lesson for urban planners and individuals, researchers said, is to embrace the unusual.

[...] The activities with the strongest predictive power included French and New American restaurants, golf courses, hockey rinks, soccer games, and bagel shops. These kinds of activities accounted for just 2% of trips but explained more than 50% of the variation in economic outcomes between neighborhoods. Wang and his collaborators didn't initially expect these leisure activities to be so tied to local economic fortunes.

[...] "Those irregular and infrequent activities are correlated with explorative behavior, the tendency of some groups to seek out opportunities, connect with different people, and create new businesses," said Esteban Moro, Ph.D., a professor at Northeastern University, who co-led the study. "Looking at those infrequent activities, we are directly looking at current and potential economic opportunities in the future."

[...] What was most surprising was that trips to the office—where we earn our money—were not strongly associated with income or property values. Rather, it's how we spend our free time that drives the economic vibrancy of cities.

Journal Reference:
Wang, S., Zheng, Y., Wang, G. et al. Infrequent activities predict economic outcomes in major American cities. Nat Cities (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s44284-024-00051-7


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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Unixnut on Monday March 25, @01:21PM

    by Unixnut (5779) on Monday March 25, @01:21PM (#1350254)

    Fair enough, I guess to clarify my experience is based on the urban UK rather than the USA.

    In that case it is not so much zoning rules as much as lack of time, stress of life and usually having all money going to pay living costs or repaying debt that prevents people from indulging in much leisure activity. Southern Europe does however have the "Cafe culture" as they call it here, where people of all walks of life with spend time sitting in cafe's, wandering around and trying new things. The media makes a point of how "unproductive" they are, which just means they have more free time to do things rather than work.

    I have in the past lived out in "rural" areas as well, and I prefer it because there is a slower pace of life, and more free time to enjoy leisure activities, be it a nice meal, a drink at a local cafe or just to amble about in nature (not to mention all the space!). I am back in an urban jungle for the moment, and I do miss it (especially the open space!).

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