On the Association Between Income Inequality and COVID Spread: A View into Spanish Functional Urban Areas.

David Castells-Quintana, Vicente Royuela

Research output: Chapter in BookChapterResearchpeer-review


In recent years many places in the world have experienced a trend and a shock. There is a trend of increasing inequalities, which have worsened social discontent and especially manifest in large urban areas. Spatial segregation and within-cities inequality is a growing concern. Besides, the COVID pandemic has become a shock with unequal territorial distribution. It is documented that the disease spreads faster in deprived communities, especially within cities and neighborhoods, which in turn may have reinforced spatial inequalities. This work studies the relationship between the size, income and income inequality of cities, and its connection with the spread of the COVID. We look at Spain and consider both municipalities and cities as Functional Urban Areas (FUAs). We use a vast list of indicators of COVID: cases, hospitalizations, ICU, and deaths. We consider the first three waves of the spread of the disease, and look at different age cohorts. In line with recent literature, we find that larger cities (i.e., FUAs) have higher levels of inequality. In terms of COVID expansion, we find that larger municipalities, with lager household size, higher average age and lower average income had higher contagion rates, as expected. Also, we find that, controlling for income, non-FUA municipalities with higher levels of inequality experienced lower contagion rates (although this result needs to be taken with caution and calling for further research).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPandemic and the City
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-21983-2
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2023

Publication series

NameFootprints of Regional Science
PublisherSpringer Cham


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