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Neighbourhood Inequality in Canadian Cities


  • Myles, John
  • Picot, Garnett
  • Pyper, Wendy


In this paper, we use census tract data to analyse changes in neighbourhood income inequality and residential economic segregation in the eight largest Canadian cities during the 1980-95 period. Is the income gap between richer and poorer neighbourhoods rising? Are high and low-income families increasingly clustered in economically homogeneous neighbourhoods? The main results are an elaboration of the spatial implications of the well documented changes that have occurred in family income and earnings inequality since 1980. We find that between neighbourhood family income (post-transfer/pre-tax) inequality rose in all cities driven by a substantial rise in neighbourhood (employment) earnings inequality. Real average earnings fell, sometimes dramatically, in low-income neighbourhoods in virtually all cities while rising moderately in higher income neighbourhoods. Strikingly, social transfers, which were the main factor stabilizing national level income inequality in the face of rising earnings inequality, had only a modest impact on changes in neighbourhood inequality. Changes in the neighbourhood distribution of earnings signal significant change in the social and economic character of many neighbourhoods. Employment was increasingly concentrated in higher income communities and unemployment in lower income neighbourhoods. Finally, we ask whether neighbourhood inequality rose primarily as a result of rising family income inequality in the city as a whole or because families were increasingly sorting themselves into "like" neighbourhoods so that neighbourhoods were becoming more economically homogeneous (economic "segregation"). We find that economic spatial segregation increased in all cities and was the major factor behind rising neighbourhood inequality in four of the eight cities. A general rise in urban family income inequality was the main factor in the remaining four cities.

Suggested Citation

  • Myles, John & Picot, Garnett & Pyper, Wendy, 2000. "Neighbourhood Inequality in Canadian Cities," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2000160e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  • Handle: RePEc:stc:stcp3e:2000160e

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:kap:jgeosy:v:20:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10109-017-0255-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Hou, Feng & Myles, John, 2003. "Neighbourhood Attainment and Residential Segregation Among Toronto's Visible Minorities," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2003206e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    3. Heisz, Andrew & Jackson, Andrew & Picot, Garnett, 2002. "Winners and Losers in the Labour Market of the 1990s," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2002184e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    4. Hou, Feng & Myles, John, 2005. "Neighbourhood inequality, neighbourhood affluence and population health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(7), pages 1557-1569, April.
    5. Heisz, Andrew & McLeod, Logan, 2004. "Low-income in Census Metropolitan Areas, 1980-2000," Trends and Conditions in Census Metropolitan Areas 2004001e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    6. Jamie Spinney & Hugh Millward, 2010. "Time and Money: A New Look at Poverty and the Barriers to Physical Activity in Canada," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 99(2), pages 341-356, November.
    7. Pierre-Olivier Pineau, 2008. "Electricity Subsidies in Low-Cost Jurisdictions: The Case of British Columbia," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 34(3), pages 379-394, September.


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