Segregation Dynamics

Buildings illustrating a segregated Mexico city
Buildings illustrating a segregated Mexico City. Photo credit: Johnny Miller / Unequal Scenes

Segregation research is one of the core fields within analytical sociology, as it is a key example of how individuals in interaction with one another may unintentionally bring about important macro-level outcomes. The segregation research at the IAS focuses on the dynamic processes that lead to a concentration of individuals with certain socio-economic or ethnic characteristics in different workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods, and the consequences this has for the life courses and wellbeing of individuals. 

The workplace is a domain where people spend a considerable part of their time, where many important social interactions take place, where identities are formed, and where important resources are distributed. At the IAS we study how ethnic and gender‐based workplace- and labor market segregation is created as an unintended outcome of interactions between many individuals.

The research on school segregation at the IAS focuses on a range of different topics using diverse methods, such as discrete choice and agent-based models, to examine how schools become segregated. The research uses register data to explore how increased school-choice may increase segregation, as well as what consequences segregation may have for children’s educational outcomes.

The research on neighborhood segregation often utilizes detailed population register data to calculate valid measures of spatial segregation, to examine how ethnic neighborhood segregation is associated with homogamous partner choices, and how residential segregation experienced in childhood may affect future life chances.

Maps of segregation

The issue of segregation of immigrants has generated a lot of interest in Sweden with many people wondering how segregated and diverse Swedish cities are.

Researchers tend to measure segregation by indices such as dissimilarity index, but their interpretation may be difficult to grasp for someone new to them. To help visualize segregation of foreign-born residents, we created a tool that allows exploring changes in neighborhoods between 1990-2010. Our mapping is based on aggregate counts of different groups in neighborhoods (SAMS). This means that individual points do not represent location of actual people.

We see that patterns and the scale of segregation are slightly different for each city. Contrary to popular belief, Swedish cities are quite integrated, especially when compared to the United States. Yet, for some neighborhoods we can see a pattern where they are increasingly inhabited by foreign-born residents, in particular those born in non-Western countries.

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