How Durable Are Ethnoracial Segregation and Spatial Disadvantage? Intergenerational Contextual Mobility in France

Abstract

Building on emerging research into intergenerational contextual mobility, I use longitudinal data from France (1990–2008) to investigate the extent to which second-generation immigrants and the French majority continue to live in similar neighborhood environments during childhood and adulthood. To explore the persistence of ethnoracial segregation and spatial disadvantage, I draw on two measures of neighborhood composition: the immigrant share and the unemployment rate. The analysis explores the individual and contextual factors underpinning intergenerational contextual mobility and variation across immigrant-origin groups. The results document a strong stability of neighborhood environments from childhood to adulthood, especially with regard to the ethnoracial composition of the neighborhood. Individual-level factors are quite weak in accounting for these patterns compared with the characteristics of the city of origin. Moreover, the degree of contextual mobility between childhood and adulthood varies across groups. I find that neighborhood environments are more stable over time for non-European second-generation immigrants. The findings offer important new empirical contributions to the French literature on the residential segregation of immigrants and will more broadly be of interest to scholars of intergenerational spatial and social mobility.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Not all studies within this literature are able to make a causal claim about the negative effects of living in poor neighborhoods. A number of unobserved factors influence where one lives while simultaneously shaping individual outcomes, thus making it difficult to distinguish the effect of neighborhoods from the effect of other characteristics that select individuals into neighborhoods. The most robust evidence comes from experimental studies based on the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) and Gautreaux programs. These findings have shown that moving out of poor neighborhoods improves residential outcomes and health later in life (Keels et al. 2005; Leventhal and Brooks-Gunn 2003) but has only a minor effect on economic and educational achievement (Ludwig et al. 2008; Sanbonmatsu et al. 2006). The most recent research from MTO, however, documented that moving out of a poor neighborhood does have consequences for education and earnings, but that these effects are contingent on other factors, particularly the age at the time of the move and the duration of exposure to concentrated disadvantage (Chetty et al. 2016a).

  2. 2.

    Nevertheless, comparing segregation levels in France and the United States is complicated by categorical differences between ethnic/racial minorities and immigrants across contexts. Although U.S.–based measures of segregation draw on ethnoracial categories declared in the census, research in France is generally confined to first-generation immigrants distinguished by national origin. Segregation measures in France thus exclude immigrant offspring from the second generation and beyond, likely resulting in an underestimation of minority spatial concentration.

  3. 3.

    From 1968 to 1999, individuals entered the panel if they were born on the first four days of October. Since 2006, the sample was broadened to integrate individuals who are born on 16 days of the year (four days respectively in January, April, July, and October).

  4. 4.

    The periodicity of EDP follows that of the French census. From 1968 until 1999, the French census was conducted on the entire population at an interval of every seven to nine years (1968, 1975, 1982, 1990, and 1999). EDP was enriched with new information from the census at this regularity. Since 2004, however, the French census has been conducted every year on 20 % of the population. A cycle of five years is thus required for the census to be completed. Likewise, although EDP data are now updated annually with each new census, five years must be aggregated to obtain a complete wave. In addition to the five previous waves (1968, 1975, 1982, 1990, and 1999), I thus compile years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 to form the sixth wave of the panel. I control for year of observation in all models.

  5. 5.

    Noninstitutional, private households.

  6. 6.

    In France, two criteria are used to define immigrants: nationality at birth, and country of birth. French natives are defined only on the basis of nationality at birth because of France’s colonial history: French citizens by birth who were born in the former colonies and who returned to France following decolonization are distinguished from immigrants.

  7. 7.

    The variables referring to the origin of the father are used first; when the latter are not available, the mother’s origin is used. This choice is justified by the fact that the father transmits the last name, which can be a marker of difference and source of discrimination. Even though the analysis does not use any dates prior to 1990, I draw on all available years of observation to identify the immigrant origin of EDP individuals.

  8. 8.

    IRIS are inframunicipality units of between 1,800 and 5,000 inhabitants, somewhat smaller than U.S. census tracts, on average. All French municipalities of more than 10,000 inhabitants, and the majority of those with more than 5,000 inhabitants, are broken down into IRIS. IRIS were not implemented until 1999. Prior to this date, the inframunicipality division used was the îlot. I use the îlot/IRIS correspondence table provided by INSEE to match the 1990 îlots with the 1999 IRIS code. The poor quality of the geographic ID codes in EDP before 1990 makes a neighborhood-level spatial analysis difficult.

  9. 9.

    Because they are not formally identified in the census, second-generation immigrants are not included in the calculation of the immigrant share.

  10. 10.

    For EDP individuals who were observed more than once in childhood or adulthood, the childhood variables correspond to the last observation in childhood, and the adulthood variables correspond to the first observation during adulthood. The same is true of the covariates.

  11. 11.

    As with parental country of birth and nationality at birth, the variables referring to the father are used first; when the latter are not available, the variables referring to the mother are used.

  12. 12.

    Occupation and education are used to measure social class in the absence of income and wealth in EDP. These are typical measures of social class used in empirical research in France, notably on intergenerational social mobility (Lemel 1991; Vallet 1999), and are in line with the salience of the cultural dimensions of class inequalities in France (Bourdieu 1984).

  13. 13.

    Because municipality fixed-effects models require multiple individual observations within the same municipality, the models are restricted to individuals living in municipalities in which at least another observation is available. This results in a small reduction of the sample size.

  14. 14.

    For concision, the age-restricted models are not included but are available from the author upon request.

  15. 15.

    The Paris region (Ile-de-France) consists of municipalities in eight departments: Paris, Essonne, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, Seine-et-Marne, Val-de-Marne, Val-d’Oise, and Yvelines.

  16. 16.

    For concision, the interaction models are not included but are available from the author upon request.

  17. 17.

    Of a total 12,387 unique IRIS codes of individuals observed during childhood, 1,781 IRIS were observed again for individuals during adulthood. The individuals living in these IRIS form the sample of nonmovers.

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by the Flash Asile program of the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR-16-FASI-0001). Data access was made possible by the Centre d’accès sécurisé aux données (CASD), supported by a French state grant (Grant No. ANR-10-EQPX-17). I also thank Denis Fougère, Mirna Safi, Yannick Savina, Gregory Verdugo, and the three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.

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Correspondence to Haley McAvay.

Appendix

Appendix

Restricting the sample to children who transition to adulthood raises issues of attrition and censoring. Attrition concerns individuals who are observed as children in t but leave the panel before they can be observed as adults. As Table 9 shows, 18 % of children observed in t disappeared from the panel in t + 1. Another 26 % were observed twice as children but then left the panel in t + 2. Thus, the transition to adulthood is not observable for approximately 44 % of all children because of attrition. Although this rate is high, sample attrition must be put into perspective with fact that after 2004, the French census and EDP switched from collecting data on the entire population to only 20 % of the population. As a result, not all EDP individuals were relocated after 1999, increasing the attrition rate after this period. However, the loss of EDP individuals because of this change can be considered random.

Censoring, on the other hand, concerns individuals whose outcomes cannot be observed because they have not yet occurred. This analysis presents two cases. The first, concerning 31 % of the sample, comprises children who entered the panel at the last available date of observation (2008). These are presumably young children whose births were recently recorded in the civil registries. The second, 6 % of the sample, concerns individuals who remained children at all three dates. Such persons may also have been young at the first date of observation or left the parental home at a later age. In both cases, the transition to adulthood cannot be observed until a future EDP date is available.

To get a sense of how attrition and censoring may affect the analysis, Table 9 provides descriptive statistics on the sample of EDP children according to whether a transition to adulthood was observed. The most substantial differences between the samples concern immigrant origin and housing tenure. Lower rates of non-European children of immigrants and greater rates of homeowners are found in the transition to adulthood sample, which may suggest that the analysis sample is somewhat positively selected on socioeconomic characteristics. The higher attrition of immigrant populations may be due to remigration patterns. Nonetheless, the similar composition of the samples suggests that the analyses are not severely biased by these differences.

Table 9 Summary statistics on sample of EDP children

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McAvay, H. How Durable Are Ethnoracial Segregation and Spatial Disadvantage? Intergenerational Contextual Mobility in France. Demography 55, 1507–1545 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-018-0689-0

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Keywords

  • Intergenerational contextual mobility
  • Spatial disadvantage
  • Ethnoracial segregation
  • Immigrant assimilation
  • Neighborhoods