The ideal culprit
Over the past few weeks, density has been almost unanimously maligned, as experts and observers around the world weigh in on the role it played in the rapid and explosive spread of the pandemic to urban areas everywhere. Yet reality may not be as simple: it would appear instead that epidemic clusters are favored not by density per se but rather by social contact and physical proximity between individuals; as such, clusters may appear everywhere, including in sparsely populated areas. And, as Journalist Bruce Schaller (CityLab) notes, “density is the solution: It’s what fosters innovation, creates jobs, manufactures wealth, welcomes diversity, makes culture blossom”. What lies behind the heated debates and misconceptions around the notion of density? In a note published two days ago, we take a closer look at the meaning of this complex concept and some of the controversies attached to it.