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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

Urban regeneration is a potential cause of local housing wealth inequality


  • Urban regeneration in Liverpool is associated with sharp spatial inequalities in housing wealth at the local level as sharp step changes exist in the geography of housing wealth.
  • Waterside regeneration in Liverpool has involved the replacement of old dock areas with residential buildings and cultural and recreational amenities.This has led to sharp disparities in house prices between neighbouring communities leading to 'social frontiers' in housing wealth.
  • Sharp inequalities in wealth and status at the local level can generate resentment and low self-esteem among those who are less well off.

Policy implications:

  • Policies will need to focus on ways to increase social mix and prevent this residential segregation from becoming entrenched.

Related publication:

Inequality in housing wealth has risen spectacularly in England & Wales


  • Housing wealth is the value of housing assets held by an individual. For many households, this is by far their largest source of wealth.
  • The growth in homeownership during the 1980s and 1990s and rapid increases in house prices in some parts of the UK, led to concerns that a gulf was emerging in housing wealth.


Inequality in housing wealth has risen spectacularly in England & Wales


  • Housing wealth is the value of housing assets held by an individual. For many households, this is by far their largest source of wealth.
  • The growth in homeownership during the 1980s and 1990s and rapid increases in house prices in some parts of the UK, led to concerns that a gulf was emerging in housing wealth.


Urban poverty shifting out to the suburbs could further increase inequalities


  • Historically, poverty in the UK has been concentrated near town and city centres.
  • This has had pros and cons for poor households:
    • On the one hand, it means they are closer to public services, amenities and employment opportunities, which tend to be located in urban centres, though they do not always benefit from these.
    • On the other hand, they are more exposed to crime, noise and air pollution, which also tend to be concentrated near urban centres.
  • There is evidence across a range of countries including Scotland (Kavanagh et al. 2016, forthcoming) that urban poverty is decentralising – moving from the inner city to the periphery.


Social disparities in residential mobility and children’s outcomes in early and middle childhood

Studies of residential mobility over the course of individual lives have documented that individuals are more mobile when they have young children. Given the high rate of residential mobility, and the importance of early life experiences for later outcomes, it is crucial to understand the implications of moving home for children development. A large body of research has shown that children who stay in the same home have better outcomes than their more mobile counterparts. However, a dichotomization of mobility experiences (movers versus non-movers) has limited explanatory power and calls for approaches that consider frequency, motivations, and characteristics of residential moves. Further, whereas more advantaged families often make intentional moves to better housing or neighbourhood, more disadvantaged families are at risk of deterioration of their housing contexts. Families might also differ in the resources they have to buffer the negative effects of a move.

This project addresses the following research questions:

Like Mother, like child? The intergenerational transmission of maternal offending

That parental offending acts as a strong risk factor for offending in children is well-established within criminology. Yet research on the effects of prior maternal offending is relatively limited, despite the fact that many women take on a significantly higher share of childcare responsibilities, and as such, might reasonably be expected to exert an especially strong influence on their children. Aimed in part at redressing this imbalance, this study investigates the intergenerational transmission of maternal offending, and whether prior maternal offending affects boys and girls in different ways. Drawing on the longitudinal Growing Up in Scotland survey, the analysis uses a series of regression models to assess to the risk of offending among a cohort of 12-year-olds.  In addition to maternal offending, the analysis also considers contemporaneous risk factors, including family functioning and structural deprivation, to ascertain whether past behaviours, more recent circumstances or a combination of both are most likely to predict offending in children.

ACEs, places and inequality: Understanding the effects of adverse childhood experiences and poverty on offending in childhood

Over the last three decades, an extensive body of research evidence has emerged on the relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and a range of negative outcomes, including offending. Using data from the longitudinal Growing Up in Scotland survey, this paper investigates how both ACEs and material deprivation influence the risk of child offending at age 12. The analysis uses a series of binary logistic regression models to show that while the simple number of ACEs is a strong predictor of child offending, that the type of experience is also important, and that parental maltreatment is particularly significant. The analysis also shows that there are complex interactions between poverty and ACEs, and that persistent poverty at the neighbourhood level also acts as a key predictor of childhood offending.

Policy implications

Overall, the results suggest the need for an ACEs and Places agenda: for universal services to support all children who experience parental maltreatment, and for policies that mitigate the adverse effects of living in deprived areas.

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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