Neighbourhood dynamics and spatial segregation

This is an on-going area of work, including both funded and unfunded projects. The aim is to understand how the population characteristics of individual neighbourhoods change over time, and how the overall pattern of spatial segregation is affected as a result. The research is based around the analysis of longitudinal data on individuals linked to small area or neighbourhood level.

It has been widely assumed that internal migration is the driving force maintaining and deepening spatial segregation – the division of cities and towns into richer and poorer neighbourhoods. When people see a change in their status, the assumption has been that they move to keep their neighbourhood status in line. As a result, segregation is preserved even though individuals see upward and downward social mobility. Our results challenge this view:

  • analysis of data on migration within Britain in 2000-1 from the Census: this showed that migration flows did not appear to produce much change in neighbourhood characteristics (Bailey and Livingston, 2008)
  • analysis of data on from the Scottish Longitudinal Study for 1991-2001: this confirmed that migration flows had only a weak impact on changes in segregation and that changes in personal characteristics for those who did not move appeared to have a much larger influence (Bailey 2012) 
  • analysis of data for Dutch urban areas explored how flows vary between and within cities (Bailey et al 2017)

Future work will extend these analyses: by using a wider range of measures of individual status; by comparing different regions within the UK; by replicating the analyses in other countries and for different time periods.

Related projects have explored:

  • whether the neighbourhood in which people live affects their views about inequality or their support for redistribution – click here for more information
  • how people form emotional attachments to the neighbourhood in which they live, and whether the processes are affected by levels of deprivation, population turnover or social mix in the neighbourhood
  • how levels of internal migration or residential mobility vary between richer and poorer neighbourhoods, and the factors that drive this




Publications (most recent first)

Bailey, N. , van Gent, W. P.C. and Musterd, S. (2017)Re-making urban segregation: processes of income sorting and neighbourhood change.Population, Space and Place, 23(3), e2013.(doi:10.1002/psp.2013)

Bailey, N., Barnes, H., Livingston, M., and Mclennan, D. (2013) Understanding neighbourhood population dynamics for neighbourhood effects research: a review of recent evidence and data source developments, in van Ham, M. et al. (eds) Understanding neighbourhood dynamics: new insights for neighbourhood effects research. Dordrecht: Springer.

van Ham, M., Manley, D., Bailey, N., Simpson, L., and Maclennan, D. (eds) (2012) Understanding neighbourhood dynamics: new insights for neighbourhood effects research. Dordrecht: Springer.

Bailey, N. (2012) How spatial segregation changes over time: sorting out the sorting processes, Environment and Planning A.

Bailey, N. and Livingston, M. (2008) Selective migration and area deprivation: evidence from 2001 Census migration data for England and Scotland, Urban Studies 45 (4): 943-61.