COVID-19 lockdown data shows men travelled 48% more than women | University of Oxford
Men on the move
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COVID-19 lockdown data shows men travelled 48% more than women

Men have moved further than women before and during the UK’s lockdown, according to data today from the Oxford COVID-19 Impact Monitor - potentially raising questions over whether this could have been a factor in the increased incidence of male hospitalisation and mortality rates from the virus.

The newly-launched Impact Monitor’s analysis, based on anonymised, aggregated and GDPR-compliant location data from mobile phones, provides a unique and in-depth look at life in the UK. Among revelations on life in the lockdown, the data provided by the project’s partner, CKDelta, shows that, during May alone, men moved 48% further than women.

After an initial collapse in population movement, both men and women started to become more active just one week after the lockdown began

According to the findings, men have largely travelled further from home than women since the lockdown began on 23 March. Both men and women started to become more active just one week after the lockdown began - after an initial collapse in movement.  But, in every age group, men have moved more than women of the same age – and even, in some cases, more than younger women. The research has also shed light on differences in movement by age.

But, in every age group, men have moved more than women of the same age – and even, in some cases, than younger women

Dr Adam Saunders, who co-leads the Oxford COVID-19 Impact Monitor inter-disciplinary project, says, ‘To our knowledge, this is the first study which shows differences in population movement, not only between men and women, but also across age groups during the UK’s lockdown. It clearly shows that men have tended to travel further from home - potentially coming into contact with the virus with greater frequency.’

Men in their mid-20s to early 30s have moved the most, according to the data. By 15 May, this group moved 54% further than women of a similar age. Even more striking, men in their 50s have moved 28% further than the most active women, those aged between 23 and 24. Men in their 60s also moved 39% further than women of the same age.

As Dr Matthias Qian, co-leader of the project, points out, ‘The extent of differences in movement between men and women offers potential insight into why, in addition to the prevalence of underlying health conditions, men in the UK may have been most at risk from COVID-19. This is highlighted by evidence that many older men have been moving more than women of all age groups.’

 The extent of differences in movement between men and women offers potential insight into why, in addition to the prevalence of underlying health conditions, men in the UK may have been most at risk from COVID-19

The research shows that, in line with the Government’s recommendation that society’s most at-risk groups to shield themselves from contact, both men and women aged 65-plus have been the least active during the lockdown. But this group too began increasingly to move outside their homes by late March, with the gap between men and women in this age group widening as social distancing has continued. By 15 May, pension-aged men moved 30% further outside their homes than women in the same age group.

Both men and women aged 65-plus have been the least active during the lockdown. But this group too began to increasingly move outside their homes by late March

  • Project partners include Oracle, Facebook, CKDelta and Cuebiq
  • The Oxford COVID-19 Impact Monitor is an interdisciplinary project examining how COVID-19 is affecting UK society and the economy led by Dr Matthias Qian and Dr Adam Saunders.
  • The project brings together AI, data science and social science researchers from across the University, including the Department of Economics, Department of Education, Department of Engineering Science, the Mathematical Institute and the School of Geography and the Environment.
  • Team members include: Bill Wildi (Department of Engineering Science), Dr Xiaowen Dong (Department of Engineering Science), Daniel Pesch (Saïd Business School), Dr Steven Reece (Department of Engineering Science), Professor Renaud Lambiotte (Mathematical Institute) and Dr Won Do Lee (Transport Studies Unit, School of Geography and the Environment).