Ethnoracial and spatial segregation: a study of intergenerational contextual mobility in France

Drawing on longitudinal data from INSEE’s permanent demographic sample for the period 1990-2008, Haley McAvay has investigated “the extent to which second-generation immigrants and the French majority continue to live in similar neighborhood environments during childhood and adulthood.” As she explains in her abstract [] “to explore the persistence of ethnoracial segregation and spatial disadvantage, I draw on two measures of neighborhood composition: the immigrant share and the unemployment rate. The analysis explores the individual and contextual factors underpinning intergenerational contextual mobility and variation across immigrant-origin groups. The results document a strong stability of neighborhood environments from childhood to adulthood, especially with regard to the ethnoracial composition of the neighborhood. Individual-level factors are quite weak in accounting for these patterns compared with the characteristics of the city of origin. Moreover, the degree of contextual mobility between childhood and adulthood varies across groups. I find that neighborhood environments are more stable over time for non-European second-generation immigrants. The findings offer important new empirical contributions to the French literature on the residential segregation of immigrants and will more broadly be of interest to scholars of intergenerational spatial and social mobility.”

McAvay analyses the trajectories of four groups: the majority population (i.e., individuals born French to French parents), children of immigrants born in Europe, children of immigrants born in Africa, and children of immigrants from Asia or Turkey. The aim is to determine whether intergenerational contextual mobility among adult children of immigrants is comparable to that found for the majority population.

The respective neighborhood compositions of the groups studied partially overlap with the neighborhood compositions experienced by the preceding generation. While socioeconomic determinants do impact intergenerational mobility, the characteristics of the city individuals grew up is much more decisive for whether or not they remain in that neighborhood or move out.

Like the majority population, European second-generation immigrants are less affected by long-term spatial segregation than non-European second-generation immigrants. Several mechanisms are operative here, including non-European residential preferences (wanting to live near people of the same origin, for example) and majority population preferences (avoiding underprivileged neighborhoods or neighborhoods with high numbers of immigrants). Moreover, public- and private-sector housing discrimination lastingly restricts non-European minority social mobility.

From childhood to adulthood, the residential environments of non-European second generation individuals—especially their ethnoracial composition—are found to be highly stable.

Source: Haley McAvay, 2018, How Durable Are Ethnoracial Segregation and Spatial Disadvantage? Intergenerational Contextual Mobility in France, Demography, vol. 55, p. 1507–1545.

Contact: Haley McAvay

Online: August 2019