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.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
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).
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.
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).
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.
Noninstitutional, private households.
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.
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.
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.
Because they are not formally identified in the census, second-generation immigrants are not included in the calculation of the immigrant share.
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.
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.
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).
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.
For concision, the age-restricted models are not included but are available from the author upon request.
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.
For concision, the interaction models are not included but are available from the author upon request.
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.
Aalbers, M. B. (2005). Place-based social exclusion: Redlining in the Netherlands. Area, 37, 100–109.
Aeberhardt, R., Fougère, D., Pouget, J., & Rathelot, R. (2010). Wages and employment of second-generation immigrants in France. Journal of Population Economics, 23, 881–905.
Aeberhardt, R., Rathelot, R., & Safi, M. (2015). Les difficultés scolaires et professionnelles des jeunes issus de l’immigration: Effet de l’origine ou effets géographiques? [Academic and professional difficulties of young people from immigrant backgrounds: Effect of origin or geographical effects?]. Population, 70, 599–635.
Alba, R., & Logan, J. (1993). Minority proximity to whites in suburbs: An individual-level analysis of segregation. American Journal of Sociology, 98, 1388–1427.
Alba, R., & Nee, V. (2003). Remaking the American mainstream: Assimilation and contemporary immigration. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Barou, J. (2005). HLM, le risqué d’une homogénéisation par le bas: Les effets des ségrégations [Low-rent housing in France (HLM): Could the lowest become the standard? The effects of segregation]. CNAF/Informations Sociales, 123(3), 74–87.
Bernardot, M. (1999). Chronique d’une institution: La Sonacotra (1956–1976) [Chronicle of an institution: Sonacotra (1956–1976)]. Sociétés Contemporaines, 33–34, 39–58.
Blau, P. M., & Duncan, O. D. (1967). The American occupational structure. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Bolt, G., Van Kempen, R., & Van Ham, M. (2008). Minority ethnic groups in the Dutch housing market: Spatial segregation, relocation dynamics and housing policy. Urban Studies, 45, 1359–1384.
Bonnet, F., Lalé, E., Safi, M., & Wasmer, E. (2016). Better residential than ethnic discrimination! Reconciling audit and interview findings in the Parisian housing market. Urban Studies, 53, 2815–2833.
Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Bourgeois, M. (2013). Choisir les locataires du parc social? Une approche ethnographique de la gestion des hlm [Choose the tenants of the social park? An ethnographic approach to HLM management]. Sociologie du Travail, 55, 56–75.
Bråmå, A. (2006). “White flight”? The production and reproduction of immigrant concentration areas in Swedish cities, 1990–2000. Urban Studies, 43, 1127–1146.
Bunel, M., L’Horty, Y., Du Parquet, L., & Petit, P. (2017). Les discriminations dans l’accès au logement à Paris: Une expérience contrôlée [Discrimination in access to housing in Paris: A controlled experience]. Paris, France: TEPP.
Causa, O., Dantan, S., & Johansson, A. (2009). Intergenerational social mobility in European OECD countries (OECD Economics Department Working Papers, No. 709). Paris, France: OECD Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1787/18151973
Charles, C. Z. (2003). The dynamics of racial residential segregation. Annual Review of Sociology, 29, 167–207.
Chetty, R., Grusky, D., Hell, M., Hendren, N., Manduca, R., & Narang, J. (2016a). The fading American dream: Trends in absolute income mobility since 1940 (NBER Working Paper Series, No. 22910). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.
Chetty, R., Hendren, N., & Katz, L. F. (2016b). The effects of exposure to better neighborhoods on children: New evidence from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment. American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings, 106, 855–902.
Chetty, R., Hendren, N., Kline, P., & Saez, E. (2014a). Where is the land of opportunity? The geography of intergenerational mobility in the United States. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 129, 1553–1623.
Chetty, R., Hendren, N., Kline, P., Saez, E., & Turner, N. (2014b). Is the United States still a land of opportunity? Recent trends in intergenerational mobility. American Economic Review, 104, 141–147.
Crowder, K. (2000). The racial context of white mobility: An individual-level assessment of the white flight hypothesis. Social Science Research, 29, 223–257.
Crowder, K., Hall, M., & Tolnay, S. E. (2011). Neighborhood immigration and native out-migration. American Sociological Review, 76, 25–47.
Crowder, K., Pais, J., & South, S. J. (2012). Neighborhood diversity, metropolitan constraints, and household migration. American Sociological Review, 77, 325–353.
Dietrich-Ragon, P. (2011). Le logement intolérable [Intolerable housing]. Paris, France: PUF.
Diez Roux, A. V. (2001). Investigating neighborhood and area effects on health. American Journal of Public Health, 91, 1783–1789.
Ellen, I. G., & Turner, M. A. (1997). Does neighborhood matter? Assessing recent evidence. Housing Policy Debate, 8, 833–866.
Felouzis, G. (2003). La ségrégation ethnique au collège et ses conséquences [Ethnic segregation in middle school and its consequences]. Revue Française de Sociologie, 44, 413–447.
Finney, N., & Simpson, L. (2009). “Sleepwalking to segregation”?: Challenging myths about race and migration. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.
Fougère, D., Kramarz, F., Rathelot, R., & Safi, M. (2013). Social housing and location choices of immigrants in France. International Journal of Manpower, 34, 56–69.
Gobillon, L., Magnac, T., & Selod, H. (2011). The effect of location on finding a job in the Paris region. Journal of Applied Econometrics, 26, 1079–1112.
Gobillon, L., & Solignac, M. (2015). Homeownership of immigrants in France: Selection effects related to international migration flows (IZA Discussion Paper, No. 9517). Bonn, Germany: Institute for the Study of Labor.
Goffette-Nagot, F., & Sidibé, M. (2016). Housing wealth accumulation: The role of public housing. Regional Science and Urban Economics, 57, 12–22.
Grusky, D. (2014). Social stratification: Class, race, and gender in sociological perspective (4th ed.). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Haute Autorité de Lutte Contre les Discriminations et Pour l’Égalité (HALDE). (2006). La discrimination dans l’acces au logement locatif prive [Discrimination in access to private rental housing]. Paris, France: ASDO Études.
Iceland, J. (2009). Where we live now: Immigration and race in the United States. Oakland: University of California Press.
Jacquemet, N. (2013). Discriminations à l’embauche: Quelle ampleur, quelles solutions? [Discrimination in hiring: How much, what solutions?]. Regards Croisées sur l’Économie, 1(13), 49–63.
Keels, M., Duncan, G. J., DeLuca, S., Mendenhall, R., & Rosenbaum, J. (2005). Fifteen years later: Can residential mobility programs provide a long-term escape from neighborhood segregation, crime, and poverty. Demography, 42, 51–73.
Lagrange, H., & Oberti, M. (2006). Emeutes urbaines et protestations [Urban riots and protests]. Paris, France: Presses de Sciences Po.
Lemel, Y. (1991). Stratification et mobilité sociale [Stratification and social mobility]. Paris, France: Armand Colin.
Leventhal, T., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2003). Moving to opportunity: An experimental study of neighborhood effects on mental health. American Journal of Public Health, 93, 1576–1582.
Logan, J. R., Zhang, W., & Alba, R. D. (2002). Immigrant enclaves and ethnic communities in New York and Los Angeles. American Sociological Review, 67, 299–322.
Ludwig, J., Liebman, J. B., Kling, J. R., Duncan, G. J., Katz, L. F., Kessler, R. C., & Sanbonmatsu, L. (2008). What can we learn about neighborhood effects from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment? American Journal of Sociology, 114, 144–188.
Massey, D. S. (2007). Categorically unequal: The American stratification system. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.
Massey, D. S., & Denton, N. A. (1985). Spatial assimilation as a socioeconomic outcome. American Sociological Review, 50, 94–106.
Massey, D. S., & Denton, N. A. (1993). American Apartheid: Segregation and the making of the underclass. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Mayer, N., Michelat, G., Tiberj, V., & Vitale, T. (2014). Le regard des chercheurs: Un refus croissant de “l'autre” [The perspective of researchers: A growing refusal of the other]. In Commisision nationale consultative des droits de l’homme (Ed.), La lutte contre le racisme, l’antisémitisme et la xénophobie. Année 2013 (pp. 157–208). Paris: La Documentation française.
Mayer, S. E., & Jencks, C. (1989). Growing up in poor neighborhoods: How much does it matter? Science, 243, 1441–1445.
Merle, P. (2011). La carte scolaire et son assouplissement. Politique de mixité sociale ou de ghettoïsation des établissements? [The school map and its relaxation. Social diversity or ghettoization of schools?]. Sociologie, 2, 37–50.
Meurs, D., Pailhé, A., & Simon, P. (2006). The persistence of intergenerational inequalities linked to immigration: Labour market outcomes for immigrants and their descendants in France. Population (English ed.), 61, 645–682.
Oberti, M. (2007). L’école dans la ville: Ségrégation-mixité-carte scolaire [School in the city: Segregation-mix-school map]. Paris, France: Presses de Sciences Po.
Oberti, M., Préteceille, E., & Rivière, C. (2012). Les effets de l’assouplissement de la carte scolaire dans la banlieue parisienne [The effects of the relaxation of the school map in the suburbs of Paris] (Report for the HALDE). Paris, France: Défenseur des Droits and the DEPP/French Ministry of Education.
Pais, J., South, S. J., & Crowder, K. (2012). Metropolitan heterogeneity and minority neighborhood attainment: Spatial assimilation or place stratification? Social Problems, 59, 258–281.
Pais, J. F., South, S. J., & Crowder, K. (2009). White flight revisited: A multiethnic perspective on neighborhood out-migration. Population Research and Policy Review, 28, 321–346.
Pan Ké Shon, J.-L. (2010). The ambivalent nature of ethnic segregation in France’s disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Urban Studies, 47, 1603–1623.
Pan Ké Shon, J.-L., & Verdugo, G. (2015). Forty years of immigrant segregation in France, 1968–2007: How different is the new immigration? Urban Studies, 52, 823–840.
Park, R. E., & Burgess, E. W. (1921). Introduction to the science of sociology. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Peach, C. (2009). Slippery segregation: Discovering or manufacturing ghettos? Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 35, 1381–1395.
Portes, A., & Zhou, M. (1993). The new second generation: Segmented assimilation and its variants. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 530, 74–96.
Préteceille, E. (2009). La segregation ethno-raciale a-t-elle augmenté dans la métropole parisienne? [Has ethnoracial segregation increased in the Paris metropolis?]. Revue Française de Sociologie, 50, 489–519.
Quillian, L. (2002). Why is black-white residential segregation so persistent? Evidence on three theories from migration data. Social Science Research, 31, 197–229.
Rathelot, R. (2014). Ethnic differentials on the labor market in the presence of asymmetric spatial sorting: Set identification and estimation. Regional Science and Urban Economics, 48, 154–167.
Rathelot, R., & Safi, M. (2014). Local ethnic composition and natives’ and immigrants’ geographic mobility in France, 1982–1999. American Sociological Review, 79, 17–42.
Safi, M. (2006). Le processus d’intégration des immigrés en France: Inégalités et segmentation [The process of integration for immigrants in France: Inequalities and segmentation]. Revue Française de Sociologie, 47, 3–48.
Safi, M. (2009). La dimension spatiale de l’intégration: Évolution de la ségrégation des populations immigrées en France entre 1968 et 1999 [The spatial dimension of integration: Evolution of the segregation of immigrant populations in France between 1968 and 1999]. Revue Française de Sociologie, 50, 521–552.
Safi, M. (2013). Les inégalités ethnoraciales [Ethnoracial inequalities]. Paris, France: La Découverte.
Safi, M., & Simon, P. (2013). Les discriminations ethniques et raciales dans l’enquête trajectoires et origines: Représentations, expériences subjectives et situations vécues [Ethnic and racial discrimination in the survey trajectories and origins: Representations, subjective experiences and lived situations]. Economie et Statistique, 464, 245–275.
Sala Pala, V. (2013). Discriminations ethniques: Les politiques du logement social en France et au Royaume-Uni [Ethnic discrimination: Social housing policies in France and the United Kingdom]. Rennes, France: Presses Universitaires de Rennes.
Sampson, R. J. (2012). Great American city: Chicago and the enduring neighborhood effect. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Sampson, R. J., Sharkey, P., & Raudenbush, S. W. (2008). Durable effects of concentrated disadvantage on verbal ability among African-American children. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105, 845–852.
Sanbonmatsu, L., Kling, J. R., Duncan, G. J., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2006). Neighborhoods and academic achievement results from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment. Journal of Human Resources, 41, 649–691.
Sharkey, P. (2008). The intergenerational transmission of context. American Journal of Sociology, 113, 931–969.
Sharkey, P. (2013). Stuck in place: Urban neighborhoods and the end of progress toward racial equality. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Sharkey, P., & Elwert, F. (2011). The legacy of disadvantage: Multigenerational neighborhood effects on cognitive ability. American Journal of Sociology, 116, 1934–1981.
Sharkey, P., & Faber, J. W. (2014). Where, when, why, and for whom do residential contexts matter? Moving away from the dichotomous understanding of neighborhood effects. Annual Review of Sociology, 40, 559–579.
Silberman, R., Alba, R., & Fournier, I. (2007). Segmented assimilation in France? Discrimination in the labour market against the second generation. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30, 1–27.
Simon, P. (2003). France and the unknown second generation: Preliminary results on social mobility. International Migration Review, 37, 1091–1119.
Simon, P. (2008). The choice of ignorance: The debate on ethnic and racial statistics in France. French Politics, Culture & Society, 26(1), 7–31.
Simon, P., Kirszbaum, T., & Chafi, M. (2001). Les discriminations raciales et ethniques dans l’accès au logement social [Racial and ethnic discrimination in access to social housing] (GELD Public report). Paris, France: Groupe d’Etude et de Lutte contre les Discriminations.
South, S. J., Crowder, K., & Chavez, E. (2005). Exiting and entering high-poverty neighborhoods: Latinos, Blacks and Anglos compared. Social Forces, 84, 873–900.
South, S. J., Crowder, K., & Pais, J. (2008). Inter-neighborhood migration and spatial assimilation in a multi-ethnic world: Comparing Latinos, Blacks and Anglos. Social Forces, 87, 415–443.
Toma, S. (2016). The role of migrant networks in the labour market outcomes of Senegalese men: How destination contexts matter. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 39, 593–613.
Vallet, L. A. (1999). Quarante années de mobilité sociale en France: L’évolution de la fluidité sociale a la lumière de modèles récents [Forty years of social mobility in France: The evolution of social fluidity in the light of recent models]. Revue Française de Sociologie, 40, 5–64.
Van Ham, M., & Clark, W. A. V. (2009). Neighbourhood mobility in context: Household moves and changing neighbourhoods in the Netherlands. Environment and Planning A, 41, 1442–1459.
Van Ham, M., Hedman, L., Manley, D., Coulter, R., & Östh, J. (2014). Intergenerational transmission of neighbourhood poverty: An analysis of neighbourhood histories of individuals. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 39, 402–417.
van Zanten, A. (2001). L’école de la périphérie: Scolarité et ségrégation en banlieue [The school of the periphery: Schooling and segregation in the suburbs]. Paris, France: PUF.
Vartanian, T. P., Walker Buck, P., & Gleason, P. (2007). Intergenerational neighborhood-type mobility: Examining differences between blacks and whites. Housing Studies, 22, 833–856.
Verdugo, G. (2011). Public housing and residential segregation of immigrants in France, 1968–1999. Population (English ed.), 66, 169–193.
Wacquant, L. (1992). Banlieues Françaises et ghetto noir Américain: De l’amalgame à la comparaison [French suburbs and American black ghetto: From amalgam to comparison]. French Politics and Society, 10(4), 81–103.
Wacquant, L. (2008). Urban outcasts: A comparative sociology of advanced marginality. Cambridge, MA: Polity Press.
Wilson, W. J. (1987). The truly disadvantaged: The inner city, the underclass, and public policy. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Xie, Y., & Gough, M. (2011). Ethnic enclaves and the earnings of immigrants. Demography, 48, 1293–1315.
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.
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.
About this article
Cite this article
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
- Intergenerational contextual mobility
- Spatial disadvantage
- Ethnoracial segregation
- Immigrant assimilation