Academic journal article Population

Public Housing and Residential Segregation of Immigrants in France, 1968-1999

Academic journal article Population

Public Housing and Residential Segregation of Immigrants in France, 1968-1999

Article excerpt

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The riots of 2005 in France highlighted the housing conditions of many fi rst- and second-generation immigrants in public housing suburbs. Following these events, social observers have been increasingly concerned about the consequences of segregation in France, arguing that the poorest part of the population, particularly some immigrant groups and their descendants, are becoming increasingly concentrated in public housing suburbs. However, as quantitative research on the evolution of segregation has been relatively rare until today, the impact of housing policies, particularly public housing, on segregation, remains unexplored. Public housing is a source of concern for immigration policymakers as the concentration of immigrants is very high in many suburban public housing developments in France, and in Europe more generally.

This paper describes the evolution of immigrant segregation in France over a period of 30 years from 1968 to 1999, the maximum time period for which census data at the individual level are available. The objective is to highlight the new and specifi c aspects of contemporary segregation of immigrants that have emerged since 1968, and to emphasize its links with the increase in public housing participation observed over the period.

The increase in public housing supply in France during the 1960s and 1970s was followed by a large increase in public housing participation by non- European immigrants after the 1980s. According to the 1999 census, while 15% of French natives lived in public housing in 1999, the participation rate was close to 50% for immigrants from the Maghreb. Public housing participation directly affects the locations of immigrants within and potentially across urban areas and thus infl uences different aspects of segregation.

This article examines two aspects of spatial segregation: fi rst, between urban areas, and second, within these areas, at neighbourhood level. The evolution of immigrant distributions across urban areas can be compared to determine whether the concentration of immigrants increased or decreased over the study period. The segregation of immigrants within urban areas is studied using average neighbourhood characteristics (1999 IRIS census tracts(1)) and various dissimilarity indices between groups of immigrants in urban areas with more than 50,000 inhabitants. Dissimilarity indices can be interpreted as the percentage of a population group that would have to switch neighbourhoods in order to produce a distribution that matches that of the rest of the population across the geographical area under consideration.

The fi rst section provides a review of the literature on segregation, with particular emphasis on France and Europe. The second section describes the data and the methods used in the article to measure segregation at different geographical levels. Given the potential infl uence of public housing on segregation, the third section studies the large increase in immigrants' public housing participation rate during the 1980s and the 1990s. Last, the fourth section documents differences in immigrant concentration across urban areas and at neighbourhood level within urban areas.

I. Literature on immigrant segregation

Following the approach of the Chicago School of sociology, there is a large body of evidence on recent and past segregation trends in the US and Canada relating to income groups (Jargowsky, 1996; Massey and Fischer, 2003; Fong and Shibuya, 2000), blacks and whites (Wilson, 1987; Farley and Frey, 1994; Cutler et al., 1999), and ethnic minorities (Frey and Farley, 1996; Cutler et al., 2008). However, there is surprisingly little quantitative evidence of segregation trends for continental Europe, particularly for France (Musterd, 2005).

However, several pioneering studies on immigrant segregation in France have been published recently. They focus on a restrictive set of urban areas and use a larger geographical level than the IRIS within cities to construct segregation indices, showing that each geographical level documents a different aspect of segregation (see, e. …

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