Ethnic and social segregation in « sensitive » neighborhoods :
what can be learned from residential mobility data
On the basis of longitudinal data and observation of residential mobility among inhabitants of « sensitive » neighborhoods in France, it is shown that from 1990 to 1999 class segregation fell while ethnic segregation of North Africans and Black Africans rose. Not only are inhabitants of sensitive neighborhoods likely to move, but the majority of those who do, be they of French or African origin, are moving up socially. The number of Africans living in sensitive neighborhoods increased over the period due to the arrival of new immigrants ; these neighborhoods represented a first stage in their residential itinerary in France. This is a matter not so much of self-segregation as of taking advantage of ethnic solidarity to « get started ». With socio-demographic variables and degree of neighborhood « vulnerability » controlled for, Africans have more difficulty moving out of sensitive or difficult zones than people of French origin, and they are four times more likely to settle in highly vulnerable neighborhoods. This strongly suggests ethnic segregation. The segregation of Africans into sensitive neighborhoods thus proves ambivalent, but segregation levels for them did rise during the period studied. Using degree of neighborhood « vulnerability » – calculated in terms of neighborhood unemployment rate – provides an additional dimension for understanding segregation phenomena since segregation is highly likely to be observed in neighborhoods with strong concentration of disadvantaged people.