2.3.2 Policy responses

Course subject(s) 2. The Vicious Circle of Segregation

Tiit ends his video by arguing that the combination of people-based, place-based and connectivity-based policies can help to reduce inequality and segregation and achieve more inclusiveness in cities. Let‘s delve deeper into these three policies. The text below is taken from this publication, co-authored by Prof. Tiit Tammaru.

Place-based policies mainly focus on the physical upgrading of neighbourhoods. Usually they seek to stimulate socio-economic mix of households, thus these policies are often referred to as social mix policies. Place-based policies require huge investments, but within a relatively short period of time a neighbourhood can be upgraded by replacing buildings and people. There have been warnings that policy should not strive to upgrade all neighbourhoods (in terms of their socio-economic status) in a city as this might lead to displacement of low income households to outside the metropolitan region. Place-based policies have the ability to reduce levels of segregation, but will only have limited effects on breaking some of the vicious circles that lead to segregation. By reducing poverty concentrations in cities and by mixing socio-economic groups, people might also meet others from different socio-economic groups in different domains, such as workplaces, schools and during leisure activities. Diluting poverty concentrations might also reduce intergenerational transmissions of living in deprived neighbourhoods, and it might positively affect social mobility. However, it is unlikely that place-based policies alone will have long lasting effects on reducing levels of segregation. In the end place-based policies only reduce concentrations of low income groups, without affecting the underlying mechanisms that lead to persistent poverty. To break some of the vicious circles of segregation it is needed to invest in people and opportunities.

People-based policies focus on reducing poverty and creating opportunities for people in the areas of education and employment. People-based policies require a very long term perspective as it might take a generation or longer to reduce (intergenerational) poverty. The success of people-based policies are not always visible in local communities as success might leak away. If people-based policies are successful, then children do well in school and move to higher education, and people might get jobs, more income, and hence a larger choice set on the housing market, and as a result move to a better neighbourhood. The success of such policies might therefore end up in other parts of the urban region, and the people who leave might be replaced by other low income households. People-based policies might break some of the vicious circles of segregation. For example, education introduces people into new networks which is likely to result in more diverse networks also in other domains of life, such as schools, workplaces and leisure. More diverse networks will affect partner choice, job matching, and education, and can have a positive effect on income and therefore affect residential choices. Research show that those who are born in a low income neighbourhood but acquires a higher education degree are increasing their chances of living in a better neighbourhood as adults.

Connectivity based policies are focused on physically linking deprived neighbourhoods with places of opportunity in the larger urban region. For example, when public transport is free, there is less barriers for people living in low income neighbourhoods to travel to jobs or schools in other parts of the city. This is especially relevant for those living in large, often high rise, housing estates which are often located at the edge of cities, and physically separated from places with job opportunities.

In conclusion, place-based policies do not necessarily reduce poverty and inequality, and people-based policies might not have the desired local effect. Segregation of the poor is often a symptom of inequality and poverty. Segregation exists because there is inequality and because housing is spatially organised by socio-economic status. Reducing levels of segregation by socially mixing neighbourhoods will have some effects on inequality and social mobility, but in the end directly reducing poverty through education seems to be the most efficient way forward. A better transport accessibility can also help to break some of the vicious circles that lead to segregation by bringing people to places of opportunity. So the best strategy seems to be a mix of policies, tailored at specific neighbourhoods and cities, where neighbourhoods should not be viewed in isolation, but how they function within the larger urban housing and labour markets. Such an urban wide view should also include policies which stimulate intra-urban mobility through public transport, aiming at improving access to jobs and services.

You can read more on these policies: van Ham M., Tammaru T., & Janssen H. J. (2018). A multi-level model of vicious circles of socio-economic segregationDivided cities: understanding intra-urban disparities. OECD, Paris.

Creative Commons License
Building Inclusive Cities: Tackling Urban Inequality and Segregation by TU Delft OpenCourseWare is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://online-learning.tudelft.nl/courses/building-inclusive-cities-tackling-urban-inequality-and-segregation/
Back to top