Scottish Longitudinal Study
Development & Support Unit

Current Projects

Project Title:

Understanding the processes of changing segregation

Project Number:



Nick Bailey (University of Glasgow)
Mark Livingston (University of Glasgow)
Wouter van Gent (University of Amsterdam)

Start Date:

1st October 2016



Spatial segregation reflects socio-economic inequalities but may also have consequences for it, and more broadly for economic efficiency, social cohesion, or politics. To take the first of these, segregation implies the creation of richer and poorer neighbourhoods. While there is still intense debate about ‘neighbourhood effects’, much research argues that these contexts impact on individual welfare, with implications for inequality and potentially economic efficiency (Galster 2008). Understanding how segregation is changing and the processes which underpin this therefore provides a lens on wider patterns of inequality as well as potential insights for policy.

Studies of neighbourhood change have focused on the impact of selective migration on economic segregation (Mean et al 2005), with others suggesting that selective migration has a significant contribution in preventing deprived neighbourhoods from improving in response to regeneration projects (Cheshire et al 1998; McGregor and Fitzpatrick 1995). Work by the applicants suggests that the impact of selective migration may be overstated and that in situ changes in population characteristics may play a significant part in economic change within the neighbourhood and hence in driving changes in segregation (Bailey and Livingston 2008; Bailey 2012; Bailey et al 2016). Rather different implications for policy arise from these.

To date, these studies of changing segregation have looked at this concept on one dimension only (evenness) but segregation has been understood as multi-dimensional since the work of Massey and Duncan (1988). Studies in many countries, including Scotland, have suggested an important recent development is about a different dimension, centralisation – specifically the suburbanisation of poverty (Kavanagh et al 2014). This is also hinted at in the more detailed spatial analysis of processes of change in Bailey et al (2016). This study would build on previous work, further developing the methodology with potentially wide scientific application, as well as providing better understand about neighbourhood socio-economic trajectories within Scotland.


The aim of this project is to understand the processes of population and neighbourhood change which underpin changes in spatial segregation in Scotland, particularly the major cities Edinburgh and Glasgow. The project plans to extend methodologies, initially developed by the applicants using SLS data (Bailey 2012; SLS Project 2007_015), and further developed and extended using Dutch register data (Bailey et al 2016).

The project would identify the contribution of a variety of socio-demographic processes, including in situ social mobility and residential mobility, in driving changes in neighbourhood social composition, and hence changes in segregation. It would explore variations between socio-economic groups (by employment status, educational attainment, occupational status, for example).

Various measures of segregation would be used to capture changes in segregation on different dimensions. We will also explore the geography of the changes within city-regions to look for more subtle variations in neighbourhood change underlying the changes in segregation. The research is not testing hypotheses in a strict sense but seeks to provide a rich and analytical description of urban change. Research questions include:

  • How does spatial segregation change over the period 1991-2011 on different dimensions? How does the picture vary depending on the measure of socio-economic status used or between cities?
  • Which processes are responsible for these changes in segregation and do these vary by social group, city or dimension?
  • How does the pattern of change vary at the neighbourhood level or for different areas within each city?


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): 943-961.

Bailey, N. (2012) How spatial segregation changes over time: Sorting out the Sorting Process. Environment and Planning A 44(3): 705-722

Bailey, N., W.P.C van Gent, Musterd, S. (2016) Remaking Urban Segregation: Processes of Income Sorting and Neighbourhood change

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.

Galster, G. (2008), 'Quantifying the effect of neighbourhood on individuals: challenges, alternative approaches, and promising directions', Schmollers Jahrbuch 128: 1-42.

Kavanagh, L., Lee, D., Pryce, G. (2014) Poverty in suburbia: has Glasgow gone the way of American cities? AQMeN Research Briefing 5

Massey, D. S. and Denton, N. A. (1988), 'The dimensions of residential segregation', Social Forces 67 (2): 281-315.

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

SLS Project 2007_015

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