Ethnic Disparities in Neighbourhood Selection: Understanding the Role of Income


Resurgent fears that segregation could undermine the cohesion, prosperity and security of British society require re‐examining how ethnicity and economic resources interact to structure the types of neighbourhoods people relocate to when they move. This article uses the United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study and 2011 census data to assess how ethnicity and income intersect to stratify the ethnic and socio‐economic composition of the neighbourhoods people move to in England and Wales. The results suggest that greater access to resources allows people from most ethnic groups to act on shared residential preferences by moving to more advantaged locales. Furthermore, higher incomes accelerate ethnic deconcentration by carrying Asians into neighbourhoods with a greater share of White Britons. However, there is also considerable inertia and ethnic inequality in neighbourhood destinations. The geography of local opportunity structures constrains the types of neighbourhood people relocate to and ethnic minorities tend to move to less advantaged neighbourhoods than their White British peers. Although Britain is not ‘sleepwalking to segregation’, there are persistent ethnic and socio‐economic disparities in neighbourhood outcomes.