Journal of Geographical Systems

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

Measuring segregation: an activity space approach

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).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

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

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