Residential Segregation: A Transatlantic Analysis

John Iceland
Date of Publication: 
September, 2014
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

The Transatlantic Council commissioned research for this paper in connection with its 11th plenary meeting in November of 2013.

Acknowledging that immigrant residential segregation is often transitional and voluntary in nature, the authors discuss the circumstances under which such segregation can interfere with the goal of immigrant integration. They also review and evaluate an array of policy interventions designed to combat the ghettoization of immigrants and other minorities. Such interventions may be broadly classified as direct and indirect. Direct interventions might include efforts to redistribute low-income housing throughout the city or to develop mixed-use housing.  Indirect interventions seek to address the underlying causes of residential segregation, such as altering the skill mix of new immigrants (on the assumption that high-skill immigrants may be less likely to settle in ethnic enclaves) or giving immigrants access to the language training, citizenship acquisition, and economic opportunities necessary to succeed in society. The author concludes that the latter type of intervention, i.e. addressing underlying causes, will "reduce the risk that (immigrants) become economically and residentially marginalized."  The paper includes a table showing "dissimilarity indexes" for immigrant communities in various cities in the EU and the U.S. For example, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in the U.K. are among the most segregated (over 70), whereas Turks in Dusseldorf and Algerians in Paris are among the least (below 30). The chart shows comparable rates for Blacks and Hispanics in the U.S. (Abstract courtesy Nicholas Montalto, PhD.)

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Iceland, J. (2014). Residential Segregation: A Transatlantic Analysis. Migration Policy Institute. Washington: DC. Available at: