Producing and reproducing ethnic residential segregation. Is ”white flight” enough to capture the mobility motives of natives?

Lina Hedman, Uppsala University
Emma Holmqvist, Uppsala University

Residential segregation is currently perceived as one of the main urban problems in the Western World. In a comparative research project in four Nordic welfare states, we look into this issue focusing on mobility in and out of (immigrant-dense) neighbourhoods and especially the role of natives. Natives are generally more resourceful than minorities and have thus better opportunities to fulfil their housing preferences. This makes natives the potentially most important actor in the production and reproduction of residential segregation patterns. Most existing research studying natives’ mobility in relation to ethnic segregation do so based on white flight theory or similar approaches where the ethnic population composition of the neighbourhood is seen as the key issue. We argue such an approach is too simplistic since it ignores other aspects of housing and neighbourhoods that are likely to contribute to the mobility decision. Furthermore, it implicitly assumes that movers from certain types of neighbourhoods behave differently from other movers. In this paper, we aim to explore the logic behind native Swedes’ mobility decisions. Using a unique stratified survey in which we have selected natives moving from immigrant-dense and other types of neighbourhoods, we are able to look at two different groups of movers and compare their preferences and mobility motives. Do those moving from immigrant-dense neighbourhoods have similar mobility motives as those moving from other neighbourhoods? How important is the ethnic population composition of neighbourhoods in relation to other factors, such as dwelling characteristics, local service provision, relative location and visual beauty? Are there differences in housing and neighbourhood aspirations regarding the new destination among those moving from immigrant-dense neighbourhoods compared to those moving from other neighbourhoods? This study represents a first step in the comparative Nordic analysis and focuses on movers within the Stockholm region.

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Presented in Session 88: Micro explanations for internal migration decisions