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Research by Grover examines Impact of Compact Development on Concerns about COVID-19

Posted: 12/7/2023 (CSDE Research)

CSDE Affiliate Dr. Himanshu Grover (Urban Design & Planning) authored research in Humanities & Social Science Communication, titled “Public risk perception of covid-19 transmission and support for compact development“. In the last few decades, there has been a definitive shift in public support for compact development in urban settings – characterized by high densities, more multifamily residential use, and effective public transit. The allure of compact development is because, along with sustainability benefits, it offers multiple lifestyle benefits, such as more significant opportunities for socialization and easy access to amenities. However, given the recent pandemic, there may be growing concern about how future public support for compact development may change. This research assesses the relationship between perceived concern for COVID-19 transmission and public support for compact development in urban settings.  The overall results suggest a growing negative association between concern about Covid-19 infection and compact development in urban settings, although there is also heterogeneity in patterns across income and age among urban residents.

This study analyzes data from a national online survey (n = 1100) conducted in the United States toward the end of the COVID-19 pandemic (April 2022).  The results from SEM analysis suggest that people more concerned about COVID-19 transmission are less supportive of compact development policies. People from areas with higher density and more COVID-19 cases are likely to have greater concern for COVID-19 transmission, which may decrease support for compact development in these areas (mediated relationship). Individuals who rely on news, online media, friends or family for COVID-19 information and single-family residents are also less likely to support compact development. In contrast, while older adults are likely to have higher concern for COVID-19 transmission, they are likely to support compact development. Higher-income households are less likely to be concerned about COVID-19 transmission but are more supportive of compact development. These findings suggest that the perceived threat of disease transmission will likely result in decreased public support for compact development. To ensure continued public support, urban policymakers must allay public fear of virus transmission in compact built environments by incorporating public health measures for controlling virus transmission in compact urban environments.

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