Urban Socio-Economic Segregation and Income Inequality. A Global Perspective



We investigated the link between income inequality and socio-economic residential segregation in 24 large urban regions in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America. The study offers a unique global overview of segregation trends based on case studies by local author teams, it shows important global trends in segregation, and proposes a Global Segregation Thesis. Rising inequalities lead to rising levels of socio-economic segregation almost everywhere in the world. Levels of inequality and segregation are higher in cities in lower income countries, but the growth in inequality and segregation is faster in cities in high-income countries. This is causing convergence of segregation trends. Professionalisation of the workforce is leading to changing residential patterns. High-income workers are moving to city centres or to attractive coastal areas and gated communities, while poverty is increasingly suburbanising. As a result, the urban geography of inequality changes faster and is more pronounced than changes in segregation levels. Rising levels of inequality and segregation pose huge challenges for the future social sustainability of cities, as cities are no longer places of opportunities for all.


Maarten van Ham is professor of Urban Geography and head of the Department of Urbanism, and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology. His research focusses on better understanding patterns of spatial inequality and segregation, and the effects of these spatial inequalities for the lives of individuals, neighbourhoods and cities. He received a PhD from Utrecht University in the Netherlands and previously worked at the Universities of Amsterdam, Utrecht and St Andrews. He published more than 120 academic papers and 10 edited books. See for more information.

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