Virtual special issue - Internal migration in times of COVID-19


The COVID-19 pandemic has potentially altered the system of population movement around the world. As COVID-19 hit cities the hardest in the wake of the pandemic, apocalyptic headlines anticipated the ‘death of cities’. Yet, little was known about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cities and the ways it has shaped the patterns of internal population movement in and out of cities. This virtual special issue aims to consolidate our knowledge of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on internal migration, discuss key lessons we have learnt so far, and identify areas for future enquiry. It brings together evidence from six different countries - Australia, Germany, Japan, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, covering the pandemic in varying temporal lengths. Systematic patterns emerge. A first commonality is an overall reduction of internal migration rates during the early days of the pandemic but to a lesser degree than expected. Second, the impacts of COVID-19 leading to out-migration from cities seem to have been temporary, though evidence from Spain and Britain points to scarring effects with persistent losses in highly dense areas. Third, changes in internal migration generated small impacts on the population structure of cities but large-scale changes in small, rural and low-density areas.

Population, Space and Place
Francisco Rowe
Francisco Rowe
Professor of Population Data Science

My research interests include human mobility and migration; economic geography and spatial inequality; geographic data science.