Divided Cities

Understanding Intra-urban Inequalities

image of Divided Cities

This report provides an assessment of spatial inequalities and segregation in cities and metropolitan areas from multiple perspectives. The chapters in the report focus on a subset of OECD countries and non-member economies, and provide new insights on cross-cutting issues for city neighbourhooods, such as the patterns of segregation across income groups, migrant concentration and diversity across cities of different sizes, the role of public transport accessibility in widening intra-city inequalities, and the expected path dependency on outcomes related to segregation. The report also discusses methodological alternatives for measuring different dimensions of inequality and segregation across cities, and highlights the role of public policies in bridging urban divides and the relevance of the scale of analysis in order to make sound international comparisons.



Executive summary

Cities bring together people of different backgrounds. Within this diversity, people sharing common characteristics are often found in close proximity to each other, and at the same time, separated from other social groups. Such a separation is also known as spatial segregation. There is no unique answer to the question of why segregation exists, as it is the outcome of a process that can involve preferences, as well as the availability of affordable housing in certain areas. At the same time, segregation does not necessarily represent a problem to be solved, as people that seek proximity to their own may do so precisely because there are benefits for them. In some instances, however, these positive effects can be outweighed by negative effects related to uneven access to opportunities and lack of diversity. Sustained exposure to concentrations of disadvantage at work, school and other domains have been found to affect individual outcomes, leading to vicious circles of disadvantage.


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