, Volume 55, Issue 5, pp 1803–1828 | Cite as

Can Public Housing Decrease Segregation? Lessons and Challenges From Non-European Immigration in France

Can Public Housing Decrease Segregation?
  • Gregory VerdugoEmail author
  • Sorana Toma


Recent decades have seen a rapid increase in the share of non-European immigrants in public housing in Europe, which has led to concern regarding the rise of ghettos in large cities. Using French census data over three decades, we examine how this increase in public housing participation has affected segregation. While segregation levels have increased moderately, on average, the number of immigrant enclaves has grown. The growth of enclaves is being driven by the large increase in non-European immigrants in the census tracts where the largest housing projects are located, both in the housing projects and the surrounding nonpublic dwellings. As a result, contemporary differences in segregation levels across metropolitan areas are being shaped by the concentration of public housing within cities, in particular the share of non-European immigrants in large housing projects constructed before the 1980s. Nevertheless, the overall effect of public housing on segregation has been ambiguous. While large projects have increased segregation, the inflows of non-European immigrants into small projects have brought many immigrants into census tracts where they have previously been rare and, thus, diminished segregation levels.


Social housing Public housing Immigration Segregation France 



This research was supported by a French state grant (Grant No. ANR-10-EQPX-17; Centre d’accès sécurisé aux données, CASD), the LABEX Ecodec (ANR-11-LABX-0047) and the “Flash Asile” program of the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR-16-FASI-0001). The authors accessed the data via the Centre d'accès sécurisé distant (CASD), dedicated to the use of authorized researchers, following the approval of the Comité français du secret statistique. We thank the editors and three anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions. We also thank conference and seminar participants at the Population Association of America in Chicago, the Paris School of Economics, Université Paris Sud, GATE Lyon Saint-Etienne, and INED in Paris for insightful comments that helped to shape the article.

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre d’Économie de la SorbonneUniversité Paris 1 Panthéon SorbonneParisFrance
  2. 2.OFCESciences PoParisFrance
  3. 3.CREST, ENSAEUniversité Paris SaclayPalaiseauFrance
  4. 4.Institut National d’Etudes DémographiquesParisFrance

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