Universal patterns of long-distance commuting and social assortativity in cities
Eszter Bokányi, Sándor Juhász, Márton Karsai & Balázs Lengyel
Scientific Reports volume 11, Article number: 20829 (2021)
Millions commute to work every day in cities and interact with colleagues, partners, friends, and strangers. Commuting facilitates the mixing of people from distant and diverse neighborhoods, but whether this has an imprint on social inclusion or instead, connections remain assortative is less explored. In this paper, we aim to better understand income sorting in social networks inside cities and investigate how commuting distance conditions the online social ties of Twitter users in the 50 largest metropolitan areas of the United States. An above-median commuting distance in cities is linked to more diverse individual networks, moreover, we find that longer commutes are associated with a nearly uniform, moderate reduction of overall social tie assortativity across all cities. This suggests a universal relation between long-distance commutes and the integration of social networks. Our results inform policy that facilitating access across distant neighborhoods can advance the social inclusion of low-income groups.