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Neighbourhood Social Mix as a Goal of Housing Policy: A Theoretical Analysis


  • George Galster


Many western European housing policies have tried to increase the residential mix of advantaged and disadvantaged groups. Unfortunately, policymakers have given little consideration to how these groups will interact as neighbours. There are numerous theoretically grounded mechanisms by which the social mix of a neighbourhood may influence socio-economic outcomes of its residents. These mechanisms differ on the basis of which group is generating the social externality in the neighbourhood, whether this externality is positive or negative, whether it affects all residents equally, and whether the marginal externality generated by adding one more member of a particular group is constant, proportional, or is characterized by a threshold effect. This paper demonstrates that a social mix housing policy can be justified only under a circumscribed set of the preceding parameters. Indeed, depending on the mechanism assumed, social efficiency implies that neighbourhoods should be either: equally mixed, have the disadvantaged group dispersed as widely as possible, or rigidly segregated; for other mechanisms, mix becomes irrelevant. Thus, for formulating and justifying a mixed housing policy on either efficiency or equity grounds it is crucial to understand exactly what sort of neighbourhood effect(s) is operating in neighbourhoods.

Suggested Citation

  • George Galster, 2007. "Neighbourhood Social Mix as a Goal of Housing Policy: A Theoretical Analysis," International Journal of Housing Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(1), pages 19-43.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:intjhp:v:7:y:2007:i:1:p:19-43 DOI: 10.1080/14616710601132526

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Karl E. Case & Robert J. Shiller, 1988. "The behavior of home buyers in boom and post-boom markets," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Nov, pages 29-46.
    2. Trevor Fitzpatrick & Kieran Mcquinn, 2007. "House Prices And Mortgage Credit: Empirical Evidence For Ireland," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 75(1), pages 82-103, January.
    3. Irene de Greef & Ralph de Haas, 2002. "Housing Prices, Bank Lending, and Monetary Policy," Macroeconomics 0209010, EconWPA.
    4. Martins, Nuno C. & Villanueva, Ernesto, 2006. "The impact of mortgage interest-rate subsidies on household borrowing," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1601-1623, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Garey C. Durden & Patricia E. Gaynor, 2014. "Publishing in The Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy and an Evaluation (via Citation Counts) of JRAP’s Influence on Scholarship in Regional Science," Working Papers 14-07, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
    2. Dangschat, Jens S., 2014. "Residentielle Segregation," Forschungsberichte der ARL: Aufsätze,in: Räumliche Auswirkungen der internationalen Migration, pages 63-77 Akademie für Raumforschung und Landesplanung (ARL) - Leibniz-Forum für Raumwissenschaften.
    3. David Manley & Maarten van Ham, 2011. "Living in deprived neighbourhoods in Scotland. Occupational mobility and neighbourhood effects," ERSA conference papers ersa10p547, European Regional Science Association.
    4. van Ham, Maarten & Manley, David, 2009. "The Effect of Neighbourhood Housing Tenure Mix on Labour Market Outcomes: A Longitudinal Perspective," IZA Discussion Papers 4094, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. repec:bla:ijurrs:v:40:y:2016:i:6:p:1186-1204 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Lind, Hans & Annadotter, Kerstin & Björk, Folke & Högberg, Lovisa & af Klintberg, Tord, 2014. "Sustainable renovation strategy in the Swedish Million Homes Programme: A case study," Working Paper Series 14/2, Royal Institute of Technology, Department of Real Estate and Construction Management & Centre for Banking and Finance (cefin).
    7. repec:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:4:p:388:d:68608 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. William Clark, 2008. "Reexamining the moving to opportunity study and its contribution to changing the distribution of poverty and ethnic concentration," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 45(3), pages 515-535, August.
    9. Durden, Garey C. & Gaynor, Patricia E., 2015. "Publishing in The Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy and an Evaluation (via Citation Counts) of JRAP’s Influence on Scholarship in Regional Science," Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy, Mid-Continent Regional Science Association, vol. 45(2).
    10. repec:exl:22evid:v:2012:y:2012:i:1:p:1-21 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Hans Lind & Kerstin Annadotter & Folke Björk & Lovisa Högberg & Tord Af Klintberg, 2016. "Sustainable Renovation Strategy in the Swedish Million Homes Programme: A Case Study," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(4), pages 1-12, April.


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