Migration and Socio-Economic Polarisation within British City Regions

Migration and Socio-Economic Polarisation within British City Regions

Tony Champion (Newcastle University, United Kingdom) and Mike Coombes (Newcastle University, United Kingdom)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-755-8.ch010
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In recent years, census-based and other studies have documented a widening gap between better-off and more deprived residential areas in Britain. While much of this will have come about in situ, through increasing disparities in household wealth and incomes across the social scale, migration may also be contributing. The decennial population census is the only source that can provide robust statistical data on the social composition of residential movement between sub-regional and local areas. This chapter uses the 2001 Census Special Migration Statistics to examine whether migration is increasing the degree of socio-spatial polarisation within Britain’s larger city regions. Following an introduction to the study approach and the intricacies of the census data on migration, the results of data analysis are presented in three sections. The first looks at the social composition of the migration exchanges taking place between the 27 cities and the rest of their city regions, testing to see whether the cities’ migration balances are less favourable for people of higher occupational status. This identifies three types of city region, based on whether there is a positive, negative or no strong relationship between migration and socio-economic status. An example of each of these types of city region – London, Birmingham and Bristol respectively – is selected for a more detailed examination of the patterns of movement between their constituent residential zones. For these three cases, the second set of analyses compares the migration performance of each of the residential zones with its existing social status in order to see whether or not these within-city-region movements are reinforcing the existing socio-economic patterns. The third set of results seeks a better understanding of the dynamics of the migration through examining the residential movements between all pairings of the zones in each of the three city regions and identifying how consistently the balance of these migration exchanges favours the better-off of the two zones.
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Study Approach And Data

Before moving to the three sections that present the results of the empirical analyses, here we provide more detail about the study approach and the census data used in the quest to improve our understanding of migration’s role in altering the socio-economic patterning of city regions. In the first place, it is important to stress that these analyses concentrate entirely on the residential movements that are internal to the cities as we have defined them (see below), excluding migration between each city and the rest of the UK as well as international migration.

In terms of the three questions, the first concerns the migration exchanges between the continuously built-up core of each city and the rest of its city region.

  • Is the balance of migration exchanges between the city’s core and the rest of its region less favourable for people of higher socio-economic status?

The other two are pitched towards the residential movement taking place between a more disaggregated set of zones than the simple core/rest dichotomy.

  • Do the within-region moves reinforce the existing socio-economic geography?

Here the focus is on the differential performance of zones in their migration exchanges with all the other zones in their city region combined, looking at each socio-economic class separately and comparing this pattern with the between-zone variations in the importance of this class in the whole residential population.

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