Journal of Geographical Systems

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 127–145 | Cite as

Measuring segregation: an activity space approach

  • David W. S. WongEmail author
  • Shih-Lung Shaw
Original Article


While the literature clearly acknowledges that individuals may experience different levels of segregation across their various socio-geographical spaces, most measures of segregation are intended to be used in the residential space. Using spatially aggregated data to evaluate segregation in the residential space has been the norm and thus individual’s segregation experiences in other socio-geographical spaces are often de-emphasized or ignored. This paper attempts to provide a more comprehensive approach in evaluating segregation beyond the residential space. The entire activity spaces of individuals are taken into account with individuals serving as the building blocks of the analysis. The measurement principle is based upon the exposure dimension of segregation. The proposed measure reflects the exposure of individuals of a referenced group in a neighborhood to the populations of other groups that are found within the activity spaces of individuals in the referenced group. Using the travel diary data collected from the tri-county area in southeast Florida and the imputed racial–ethnic data, this paper demonstrates how the proposed segregation measurement approach goes beyond just measuring population distribution patterns in the residential space and can provide a more comprehensive evaluation of segregation by considering various socio-geographical spaces.


Socio-geographical spaces Activity space Exposure Travel diary 

JEL Classification

C00 R23 



We would like to thank the District IV Office of the Florida Department of Transportation for its support of providing the tri-county travel survey data. This research is partially supported by the US National Science Foundation Grant No. BCS-0616724, and the National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Grant No. R01AA016161 (PI: William Wieczorek).


  1. Abler R, Adams JS, Gould P (1971) Spatial organization: the geographer’s view of the world. Prentice Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  2. Abramson AJ, Tobin MS, VanderGoot MR (1995) The changing geography of metropolitan opportunity: the segregation of the poor in United States metropolitan areas, 1970 to 1990. Hous Policy Debate 6:45–72Google Scholar
  3. Beckmann MJ, Golob TF, Zahavi Y (1983a) Travel probability fields and urban spatial structure: 1. Theory. Environ Plan A 15:593–606CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beckmann MJ, Golob TF, Zahavi Y (1983b) Travel probability fields and urban spatial structure: 2. Empirical tests. Environ Plan A 15:727–738CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blair SL, Lichter DT (1991) Measuring the division of household labor: gender segregation of household among American couples. J Fam Issues 12(1):81–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blumen O, Zamir I (2001) Two social environments in a working day: occupation and spatial segregation in metropolitan Tel Aviv. Environ Plan A 33:1765–1784CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bowen WM, Salling MJ, Haynes KE, Cyran EJ (1995) Toward environmental justice: spatial equity in Ohio and Cleveland. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 85(4):641–663CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown LA, Chung S-Y (2006) Spatial segregation, segregation indices and the geographical perspective. Popul Space Place 12(2):125–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brown LA, Moore EG (1970) The intra-urban migration process: a perspective. Geogr Ann Ser B 52(1):1–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Buliung RN, Kanaroglou PS (2006) A GIS toolkit for exploring geographies of household activity/travel behavior. J Transp Geogr 14:35–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Buliung RN, Remmel TK (2008) Open source, spatial analysis, and activity-travel behavior research: capabilities of the aspace package. J Geograph Syst 10:191–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Corradino CS (2000a) Southeast Florida regional travel characteristics study: executive summary. Report prepared for Florida Department of Transportation, Districts IV and VI, Miami-Dade MPO, Broward County MPO, and Palm Beach County MPOGoogle Scholar
  13. Corradino CS (2000b) Southeast Florida regional travel characteristics study: household travel characteristics survey plan and findings. Report prepared for Florida Department of Transportation, Districts IV and VI, Miami-Dade MPO, Broward County MPO, and Palm Beach County MPOGoogle Scholar
  14. Cromley EK, McLafferty SL (2002) GIS and public health. Guilford Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. Dawkins CJ (2004) Measuring the spatial pattern of residential segregation. Urban Stud 41:833–851CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Deutsch J, Fluckiger Y, Silber J (1994) Measuring occupational segregation. J Econom 61:133–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. DuBois WEB (1934) Segregation. In: Weinberg M (ed) W.E.B. DuBois: a reader. Harper, New York, 1970Google Scholar
  18. Ellis M, Wright R, Parks V (2004) Work together, live apart? Geographies of racial ethnic segregation at home and at work. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 94(3):620–637CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Estlund C (2003) Working together: how workplace bonds strengthen a diverse democracy. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. Feitosa FF, Camara G, Monteiro AMV, Koschitzki T, Silva MPS (2007) Global and local spatial indices of urban segregation. Int J Geogr Inf Sci 21:299–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Galster GC, Killen SP (1995) The geography of metropolitan opportunity: a reconnaissance and conceptual framework. Hous Policy Debate 6:7–43Google Scholar
  22. Golledge RG, Stimson RJ (1997) Spatial behavior: a geographic perspective. Guilford Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  23. Goodchild MF, Janelle DG (1984) The city around the clock: space-time patterns of urban ecological structure. Environ Plan A 16:807–820CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Grady SC (2006) Racial disparities in low birth weight and the contribution of residential segregation. Soc Sci Med 63(12):3013–3019CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Grady SC, McLafferty S (2007) Segregation, nativity, and health: reproductive health inequalities for immigrant and native-born black women in New York City. Urban Geogr 28(4):377–397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Groves FD, Andrews PA, Chen VW, Fontham ET, Correa P (1996) Is there a ‘cancer corridor’ in Louisiana? J La State Med Soc 148(4):155–165Google Scholar
  27. Guo JY, Bhat CR (2007) Population synthesis for microsimulating travel behavior. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 2014Google Scholar
  28. Hägerstrand T (1970) What about people in regional science? Pap Reg Sci Assoc 24:7–21Google Scholar
  29. Horton FE, Reynolds DR (1971) Effects of urban spatial structure on individual behavior. Econ Geogr 47(1):36–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Janelle DG, Hodge DC (eds) (2000) Information, place, and cyberspace: issues in accessibility. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  31. Kellerman A (1981) Centrographic measures in geography: concepts and techniques in modern geography (CATMOG) No. 32. Geo Books, University of East Angolia, NorwichGoogle Scholar
  32. Kwan MP (1998) Space–time and integral measures of individual accessibility: a comparative analysis using a point-based framework. Geogr Anal 30(3):191–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kwan MP (2002) Time, information technologies, and the geographies of everyday life. Urban Geogr 23(5):471–482CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kwan MP (2004) GIS methods in time-geographic research: computation and geovisualization of human activity patterns. Geogr Ann B 86(4):267–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kwan MP (2009) From place-based to people-based exposure measures. Soc Sci Med 69:1311–1313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lieberson S (1981) An asymmetrical approach to segregation. In: Peach C, Robinson V, Smith S (eds) Ethnic segregation in cities. Croom Helm, London, pp 61–82Google Scholar
  37. Massey DS (1990) American apartheid: segregation and the making of the underclass. Am J Sociol 96:329–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Massey DS, Denton NA (1988) The dimensions of residential segregation. Soc Forces 67:281–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Miller HJ (1991) Modeling accessibility using space-time prism concepts within geographical information systems. Int J Geogr Inf Sci 5(3):287–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Morency C, Páez A, Roorda M, Mercado RG, Farber S (2010) Distance traveled in three Canadian cities: spatial analysis from the perspective of vulnerable population segments. J Trans Geogr. doi: 10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2009.09.013 (in press)
  41. Morrill RL (1991) On the measure of geographical segregation. Geogr Res Forum 11:25–36Google Scholar
  42. Newsome TH, Walcott WA, Smith PD (1998) Urban activity spaces: illustrations and application of a conceptual model for integrating the time and space dimensions. Transportation 25:357–377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Nobis C, Lenz B (2009) Communication and mobility behavior—a trend and panel analysis of the correlation between mobile phone use and mobility. J Transp Geogr 17(2):93–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. O’Sullivan D, Wong DW (2007) A surface-based approach to measuring spatial segregation. Geogr Anal 39(2):147–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Páez A, Mercado RG, Farber S, Morency C, Roorda M (2010) Relative accessibility deprivation indicators for urban settings: definitions and application to food deserts in Montreal. Urban Stud. doi: 10.1177/0042098009353626 (in press)
  46. Perlin SA, Wong D, Sexton K (2001) Residential proximity to industrial sources of air pollution: interrelationships among race, poverty and age. J Air Waste Manag Assoc 51:406–421Google Scholar
  47. Reardon SF, O’Sullivan D (2004) Measures of spatial segregation. Sociol Methodol 34:121–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Reardon SF, Yun JT, Eitle TM (2000) The changing structure of school segregation: measurement and evidence of multiracial metropolitan-area school segregation, 1989–1995. Demography 37:351–364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Schnell I, Yoav B (2001) The sociospatial isolation of agents in everyday life: space as an aspect of segregation. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 91(4):622–636CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Schönfelder S, Axhausen KW (2003) Activity spaces: measures of social exclusion? Transp Policy 10(4):273–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sexton K, Adgate J (1999) Looking at environmental justice from an environmental health perspective. J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol 9(1):3–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Shaw S-L, Wang D (2000) Handling disaggregate spatiotemporal travel data in GIS. GeoInformatica 4(2):161–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Shaw S-L, Yu H (2009) A GIS-based time-geographic approach of studying individual activities and interactions in a hybrid physical-virtual space. J Transp Geogr 17(2):141–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Taylor PJ, Parkes DN (1975) A Kantian view of the city: a factorial-ecological experiment in space and time. Environ Plan A 6:671–688CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1967) Racial isolation in the public schools. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DCCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wolpert J (1965) Behavioral aspects of the decision to migrate. Pap Reg Sci Assoc 15:159–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wong DWS (1993) Spatial indices of segregation. Urban Stud 30:559–572CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wong DWS (1999) Geostatistics as measures of spatial segregation. Urban Geogr 20:635–647CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wong DWS (2002) Modeling local segregation: a spatial interaction approach. Geogr Environ Model 6:81–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Yinger J (1979) Prejudice and discrimination in the urban housing market. In: Mieszkowski P, Straszheim M (eds) Current issues in urban economics. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, pp 430–468Google Scholar
  61. Yu H (2006) Spatio-temporal GIS design for exploring interactions of human activities. Cartogr Geogr Inf Sci 33(1):3–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Yu H, Shaw S-L (2008) Exploring potential human activities in physical and virtual spaces: a spatio-temporal GIS approach. Int J Geogr Inf Sci 22(4):409–430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Zoloth BS (1976) Alternative measures of school segregation. Land Econ 52:278–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geography and GeoInformation ScienceGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations