Scottish Longitudinal Study
Development & Support Unit

Completed Projects

Project Title:

Neighbourhood change: selective migration versus in situ change

Project Number:



Nick Bailey (University of Glasgow)
Mark Livingston (University of Glasgow)

Start Date:

Approved on 22-01-2008


There is a great deal of academic and policy interest in the dynamics of change for small areas or “neighbourhoods”. Meen et al (2005) have examined the impacts of migration on economic segregation overall while a number of evaluation studies have suggested that selective migration plays a significant role preventing deprived areas from improving in response to spatially targeted interventions (Cheshire et al, 1998; McGregor and Fitzpatrick, 1995; CRESR, 2005). A recent study using 2001 Census data has argued, however, that the problem of adverse selective migration may have been overstated (Bailey and Livingston 2007, 2008). Earlier studies relied on relatively small samples surveys which are prone to biases. Evidence from Census migration data shows much smaller effects.

This study aims to make two contributions to these debates. First, it will extend the analysis in Bailey and Livingston (2008) by examining the impacts of migration over a 10 year period and using a wider range of measures of deprivation. The earlier work was limited to examining a single measure of individual characteristics (educational status) due to constraints imposed by confidentiality restrictions when producing commissioned tables. Second, it will further extend that work by adding an understanding of the relative contributions to area change of (i) change in the characteristics of non-migrants (in situ change) and (ii) change through selective migration.

This study is seen as a preliminary study to gain familiarity with this dataset and to explore its potential. It is hoped that it will lead on to a more substantial analysis, funded by the ESRC or similar.

The research aims to examine changes in the spatial segregation of deprived households over time and to identify the relative contribution of two processes to that change: selective migration; and in situ change (change for non-movers). It will explore change on key dimensions related to socio-economic status including employment, social class and education. It will work initially at the scale of the CATTs (Continuous Areas Through Time), and will focus on differences between deprived and other areas in particular. Hypotheses include:

  • that spatial segregation rises over the period 1991-2001 on each of dimensions examined;
  • that selective migration acts to reinforce segregation on each of the dimensions; and
  • that selective migration is the dominant process driving area change (i.e. that any improvements that deprived areas see through in situ change are more than offset by net migration effects).


Bailey, N. and Livingston, M. (2007) Population turnover and area deprivation. Bristol: Policy Press.

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

Centre for Regional, Economic and Social Research (CRESR) (2005) New Deal for Communities 2001-5: an interim evaluation. Research Report 17. London: NRU/ODPM.

Cheshire, P., Flynn, N., and Jones, D. A. (1998) Harlesden City Challenge: final evaluation. London: LSE.

Exeter, D. J., Boyle, P., Feng, Z., Flowerdew, R., and Schierloh, N. (2005) The creation of 'Consistent Areas Through Time' (CATTs) in Scotland, 1981-2001, Population Trends 119: 28-36.

McGregor, A. and Fitzpatrick, I. (1995) The impact of urban regeneration partnerships on unemployment, Scottish Economic Bulletin 51: 15-28.

Meen, G., Gibb, K., Goody, J., McGrath, T., and Mackinnon, J. (2005) Economic segregation in England: causes, consequence and policy. Bristol: Policy Press.

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