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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: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday March 25, @03:26PM

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday March 25, @03:26PM (#1350272)

    We live in a "commercially overbuilt" city - strip mall square footage is cheap. The (massive) K-mart that went out of business 8 years ago still stands vacant, and we've got a over 1 million square feet in a 1.4 million square foot shopping mall standing vacant as well - although the 4 million square feet of strip malls within a mile of it are mostly doing well.

    It's great for restaurant startups, game cafes, etc. but it also frequently gets filled with vape shops, nail salons, comic shops, dollar trees, tattoo parlors and other super low-rent indicators - when it's not altogether empty.

    With housing the way it is, they really should consider converting some of those old vacant shopping spaces to "Loft apartments" - it would become a very walkable neighborhood for people who don't mind living in an ex-Baby Gap.

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