Economie et Statistique / Economics and Statistics n° 497-498 Living standards and segregation in twelve French metropolises

Jean-Michel Floch

Economie et Statistique / Economics and Statistics
Paru le :Paru le07/02/2018
Jean-Michel Floch
Economie et Statistique / Economics and Statistics- February 2018

Article on one page

Key question

Urban segregation reflects the uneven spatial distribution of social groups between neighbourhoods. Often associated with urbanisation, it has harmful economic consequences and is detrimental to inclusive growth. Knowing the magnitude of this phenomenon and the way in which it plays out spatially is an important challenge for cities, where the lowest living standards like the highest are generally over-represented in their city-centre. Based on a measure of segregation, this article compares the situation of twelve metropolises and proposes a typology for mapping mixed neighbourhoods and those contributing to segregation.


Segregation is measured based on a rank-ordered segregation index taking into account all income distribution. It is supplemented by a typology of neighbourhoods, based on the distribution of standard of living quintiles. The data are drawn from the Localised Social and Fiscal Register (Filosofi, Insee) in which tax and social income are matched.

Main results

Significant differences exist between the urban areas analysed: the level of segregation is higher in those of Lille, Paris and Aix-Marseille.

Segregation is less marked in outer suburbs than in suburbs and central cities.

In Lille, segregation is strong in suburbs; in Paris, it is also high in the suburbs, particularly in the Yvelines, while it is not so in the city-centre; lastly, it is also high in central city Aix-Marseille.

In most cases, the segregation of those with high standard of living is more marked than those with the lowest standard of living.

The hierarchies resulting from the analysis of segregation based on income and the SOCs are convergent.

The typology built from the distribution of standards of living makes it possible to highlight various types of spatial organisation, depending on whether the low standard of living is located in the city-centre (Rennes) or in the suburbs (Lyon), and to locate territories that can be described as mixed.

Main messages

Segregation is a complex phenomenon that must be understood using complementary approaches, taking into account the entire urban territory as opposed to being limited to so-called sensitive neighbourhoods. Measuring segregation and mapping social diversity make it possible to put into perspective the rhetoric on the immediate suburbs and outer suburbs, and bring out the fact that segregation occurs at both ends of the standard of living scale.

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