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Study: People from poor neighbourhoods remain in poor neighbourhoods?

Posted July 28, 2014
Picture: Two youths in a neighborhood of poor people. Author: Danny Lyon. Year: 1942. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Picture: Two youths in a neighborhood of poor people. Author: Danny Lyon. Year: 1942. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Previous research reveals that social and economic inequalities transmitted from generation to generation. This issue is receiving more and more attention from policy makers and sociologists. However, spatial dimension is often omitted. Recent study carried out by Maarten van Ham and his colleagues shows that „children living with their parents in high poverty concentration neighbourhoods are very likely to end up in similar neighbourhoods much later in life.“ Why is it so?

Residential mobility was previously investigated by many scientists. However, most of the previous studies analyzed only cross-sectional data or investigated residence changes over short time spans. Researchers made a serious attempt to fill this gap. „Using individual-level register data tracking the whole Stockholm population from 1990 to 2008, and bespoke neighbourhoods, this study is the first to use sequencing techniques to construct individual neighbourhood histories,“ they say.

In addition, sociologists focused on intergenerational residential mobility in such socially and economically unequal countries as U.S.A or U.K. In contrast, authors Van Ham and his team explored data from one of the least stratified Western countries, Sweden.

However, results showed that transmission of the neighborhood inequalities is strongly present even there. „Those who lived with their parents in high poverty concentration neighbourhoods are much more likely to spend time in such a neighbourhood (48.8% of the next 18 years) compared with those who lived with their parents in low poverty concentration neighbourhoods (30.6% of the next 18 years),“ researchers report.

They also revealed that ethnic minorities are affected by this issue. As Sweden is one of the most egalitarian countries in Europe, situation in other countries should be even worse. „That parental neighbourhood type has such a long lasting impact on exposure, even after controlling for a variety of changes occurring elsewhere in the life course, suggests that disadvantage is not solely transmitted through parental income, but is also linked to living in poverty neighbourhoods,“ scholars write.

Article: Van Ham, M., Hedman, L., Manley, D., Coulter, R. and Östh, J., 2014, Intergenerational transmission of neighbourhood poverty: an analysis of neighbourhood histories of individuals. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 39: 402–417. doi: 10.1111/tran.12040, source link.

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