Home | Research Themes | Housing


New houses being built in a new development

Housing affects inequality in a number of important ways. Differences in house prices across neighbourhoods limit where poor househods can live.
Higher demand for houses in the most desirable neighbourhoods will tend to push up prices in locations with access to good schooling, low crime, access to transport, abundant employment opportunities, and pleasant physical environment. This means that the housing market has a key role in "sorting" poorer households into areas with the worst pollution, schools, crime and employment. We are interested in exploring how the housing market affects inequality and determines life trajectories.

Research Papers

Decentralisation, suburbanisation and inequality in England and Scotland after devolution

Scottish governments and think tanks over the past two decades have tended to look across the North Sea, rather than the Atlantic, for inspiration. The desire to follow the Nordic model rather than the American one on issues of social and economic inequality has become one of the defining features of Scottish politics compared to the rest of the UK. Since the Scotland Act of 1998, more and more of the powers needed to pursue a more egalitarian social vision have been devolved to the Scottish Government, enabling it to take a different course to its neighbour south of the Border, should it so choose. Given that 2018 is the twentieth anniversary of the Scotland Act, now seems like a timely moment to take stock. Can we see divergent paths emerging with regard to different dimensions of inequality relative to England?

Poverty, employment and access to amenities in polycentric cities: measuring the decentralisation of poverty and its impacts in England and Wales

A growing number studies of European and North American cities have shown that poverty is moving away from urban centres in a process known as the decentralisation (or suburbanisation) of poverty. These findings raise important questions about the impact on the quality of life for poorer residents who face financial constraints with respect to their access to transport. This paper investigates the implications of decentralisation of poverty for inequality in access to amenities and employment.
We define “access” in terms of distance to these features. Using data on England and Wales, we find that the decentralisation of poverty has led to greater inequalities between poor and non-poor households in access to both employment and amenities in large urban areas.

Tipping vs Churning: To what extent are tipping-point effects offset or explained by neighbourhood churn?

Galster and others have tested for tipping points in various aspects of neighbourhood effects -  i.e. it is only when poverty or ethnic mix reach a certain threshold that impacts on life outcomes, neighbourhood trajectory or white flight become apparent. There is, however, an important mitigating factor in such thresholds and that is neighbourhood instability. In neighbourhoods with a high degree of churn – perhaps because of their close proximity to employment or educational opportunities that are temporary in nature – the effect of composition in terms of ethnicity may be less important as it is lost amid the noise of residential turnover. Note that endogenous (intra-neighborhood) turnover must be distinguished somehow from exogenously induced turnover. If an increase in ethnic mix is combined with an increase in churn, the effects may be exacerbated, particularly for indigenous residents who place a high value on neighbourhood stability. And neighbourhood stability may itself be important as it reflects (and makes it more possible) long term friendships and social connections at the neighbourhood level.

What are the effects of changing neighbourhood poverty on labour market outcomes?

Since the turn of the century, there has been a rise in Scottish nationalist sentiment but unusually this has not been associated with a rise in anti-immigration parties such as UKIP. Indeed, one of the themes of the Scottish Independence debate was how Scotland has a fundamentally more open and tolerant approach to immigration than England. Scotland did not experience the rise of anti-immigration attitudes seen south of the Border, particularly in the lead up to and the aftermath of the Brexit referendum. This raises an interesting question about whether migrants and ethnic minorities more generally in Scotland benefit in substantive ways from the greater ambient tolerance north of the border.

Have ethnic minorities decentralised in Scottish cities, and what is the impact on access to employment, schooling and health services?

We have seen significant changes to the centralisation and spatial ordering of poverty in Scottish cities, but we know little about how these effects or their consequences differ for ethnic minorities.
In this research paper we are interested in addressing two key questions:

(1) has there been significant changes to the spatial distribution of different ethnic minorities (particularly in terms of decentralisation and spatial ordering)?

(2) what have been the impacts in terms of their access to employment, education and health services (GP surgeries), and their exposure to pollution, and crime?

We plan to investigate this using similar methodology to that used by Zhang & Pryce (2018) and to focus on inter-ethnic differences.

This research is in development. If you have any questions about this work, please contact Professor Gwilym Pryce.

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