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COVID-19 and the Changing Geographies of Care

Oscar Sosa López and Carlos J. Celis

We made some significant progress in the project during the spring of 2024. We updated the research question: How do the infrastructural systems of care of immigrant households work, and how have they changed with and after COVID-19? We delimited the project to Queens' Community Districts 3 and 4, which have a proportion of foreign-born population above 57% of the total population. The selected community districts include the following neighbors:  East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, North Corona, Corona, Corona Heights, Elmhurst, and Lefrak City. We submitted the project to the IRB and got it approved by BRANY. 

Regarding reaching out to the community, we consolidated an alliance with Elmhurst Hospital, and they are helping us contact people for the interviews and surveys (see images above). For the analysis, we made descriptive statistics to illustrate the caregiving landscapes in Queens. To do so, we consolidated and analyzed three data sets: (i) the American Community Surveys 2019 and 2022, (ii) the NYC Planning Facilities dataset 2023, and (iii) NYC Planning MapPluto Use of Land 2020. For qualitative methods, we did six interviews with immigrant organizations and caregivers. Lastly, we presented the preliminary findings at the International Urban Affairs Conference on April 26th. 

Regarding findings, the quantitative data suggest an expansion of the immigrant care demand and care supply in NYC–meaning more immigrant care recipients and care workers after the pandemic. The data also suggest a statistically significant positive correlation between the percentage of immigrant residents in a community district and the number of care recipients per care infrastructure. In other words, the community districts with the highest immigrant population are also the community districts with the highest concentration of care recipients in schools, hospitals, and libraries–we call this infrastructural care burden. The figure at left illustrates this phenomenon. The two outlier observations are our selected community districts (3 and 4), which have almost 60% of the foreign-born population (highest in NYC) and a population of more than 1,000 children per available public school in the area (also the highest in NYC).  

In the qualitative part of the research, we aim to explain how the different care components interact (care recipients, caregivers, care infrastructure, etc.) or how the infrastructural care system operates. We developed a typology of four kinds of care-to-care interactions–substitutive, complementary, antagonistic, and alienated–to analyze the connections between care institutions (families, communities, markets, and state), care capacities (raising children, caring for family members, maintaining households.), and care chains (national and transnational). Preliminary results show that the high concentration of caregiving activities in a few constrained spaces, such as homes and places of work, negatively impacted how different care infrastructures interact.


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