About AQMeN Urban Segregation and Inequality research

This strand aims to advance the measurement (Massey & Denton 1988; Galster & Cutsinger 2007) of residential segregation/inequality in Scotland, estimate its causes (Schelling 1971; Kuminoff & Timmins 2010) and consequences (Galster 2007), and provide comparisons (where possible) with England, Wales and USA.

The UK has some of the best data resources in the world for estimating the nature and consequences of neighbourhood inequality and fragmentation. Yet, they remain under-utilised, and there is a dearth of systematic, longitudinal comparisons with other countries. This strand will combine innovative measures of social segmentation with cutting-edge longitudinal and sorting-model techniques to explore the drivers of, and constraints on, household location choice (the causes of neighbourhood segmentation, sorting and inequality – Bayer et al. 2004), the effect on life chances and wellbeing (the consequences) and the implications for how we design interventions (development of policy simulation toolkits).

This strand will be organised in terms of four sequential, interconnected phases.

Phase 1: Defining Urban Segmentation. This phase will develop innovative ways to define, measure and map the geography of segmentation, inequalities in access to amenities and discrepancies in exposure to risks and opportunities. Research questions will include: how does the nature of residential segments vary within and between cities and to what extent does this change over time? How can we develop a coherent taxonomy of neighbourhood and city structure to help us compare residential patterns across countries?

Phase 2: The Causes of Urban Segmentation and Inequality. Modelling household location, market processes and constraints will allow us to better understand the interdependencies between household choices, educational outcomes, life chances and policy interventions. Research questions will include: To what extent does preference for social/racial homogeneity reduce access to good schooling? What is the role of the housing market in sorting people across space? To what extent is the mobility of different socio-economic groups constrained by tenure, place attachment and income? What are the key risks (e.g. crime, health, environmental hazards) affecting location choice? How does behaviour (with respect to such choices and trade-offs) change in relation to economic events (e.g. credit-crunch) or policy interventions, over the life-course, and geographically? What are the effects of selective migration and non-market housing (Bailey 2012a,b,c)?

Phase 3: The Consequences of Segmentation and Inequality. Research questions include: What are the effects on individual life chances, health and wellbeing of living in a segmented community (Bowles et al. 2006)? What are the consequences of different forms and degrees of neighbourhood segmentation and inequality in exposure to risks, opportunities and access to amenities? And what are the effects of the processes that lead to residential stratification on how we value the impact of intervention (Durlauf 1996)?

Phase 4: Determining the Optimal Policy Response. We will develop policy toolkits in conjunction with stakeholders based on the statistical models constructed in phases 1 to 3. Research questions include: How can we simulate the effect of particular policy interventions? What do our results imply in terms of the optimal policy design? What are the interconnected effects of multiple policy interventions across several social sectors? How can we use these models to place a monetary value on the costs and benefits of different intervention strategies?