COVID-19 got me thinking about trend lines and the different ways people generate and interpret them. This is a question that’s of course more general than just COVID-19, but let me use this as an example to explain some very basic principles. This post is motivated by discussions I have had with a number of journalists, including Chad Skelton who nerd-sniped me into writing a post on trend lines and a thread discussing trend lines with Roberto Rocha and Tom Cardoso.
At the end of this odd COVID-19 summer we launched a reading group to bring together people interested in diving into papers and books looking at housing issues. Geoffrey Meen and Christine Whitehead’s recently released book Understanding Affordability: The Economics of Housing Markets has been the group’s first read. We highly recommend the book, it’s a good read for anyone looking for a practical understanding of how housing markets work and ways to think about supply and demand and what they mean for housing affordability.
At the end of June StatCan released an interesting census tract level metric, dubbed the D-index, measuring how much the income distribution in each census tract differs from the metro-wide distribution, and we decided to take it for a test drive. We are a bit of a sucker for this kind of fine-geography index. Condensing our wealth of information into a single number is an interesting exercise that involves lots of attention to detail.
With COVID-19 cases growing exponentially, Canada has introduced sweeping restrictions to curb the spread of the virus. People are asked to practice social distancing, work from home if possible, keep shopping trips to a minimum, keep a distance of at least 6 feet to people outside of their household, universities and schools have been closed, and travel has been restricted. Why social distancing? Just in case it’s not clear what the problem is, let’s take a look at the trajectory we are currently on.
(Joint with Nathan Lauster and cross-posted at HomeFreeSociology) The spread of Coronavirus is reminding us of just how often people travel around, especially as various locations become quarantined and international travel corridors get shut down. So let’s take a look at some basic data on travel patterns here of relevance to us here in Vancouver. Then we’ll put them back in the context of Coronavirus. TLDR: travel data is really interesting, don’t be frightened of travellers, and there’s still a lot we don’t know about coronavirus