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Show me the money: Income inequality and segregation in UK cities

Cauvain, Jenni; Long, Gavin; Whiteley, Timothy; Farcot, Etienne

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Jenni Cauvain

Gavin Long

Timothy Whiteley


The social geography of cities is argued to be changing globally; rising economic inequality is associated with increasing segregation. Yet, income inequality has been predominantly mobilised through national and regional imaginaries. In cities, a number of factors such as the normative policy motivation to intervene in “disadvantaged” neighbourhoods, have led to (concentrations of) poverty becoming prioritised in empirical studies of household income. This paper addresses a gap in understanding the relationship between local income inequality and the segregation of high-income households at the urban and neighbourhood scales in England and Wales. The results highlight that wealthier cities and districts (Cambridge, Winchester, and Rushcliffe in the Nottingham conurbation) have higher income inequality (Gini), but are less segregated (Index of Dissimilarity). Lower average income cities tend to be more segregated, due to self-segregation of high-income households into “pockets of affluence.” These results confirm that high-income households are the most segregated group in our sample, consistent with trends in global urban segregation patterns. The research also highlights just how prevalent low income is in urban neighbourhoods, making the case for high income as the designated minority population in segregation studies. In our detailed case study of Nottingham, income homogeneity is typical of areas with high deprivation. Neighbourhoods with a high Gini coefficient could be described as mixed income: the Gini is raised by the presence of high-income households in urban neighbourhoods. We argue that the Gini therefore offers potential as an indicator of social mix in urban studies. These results are based on an experimental household income dataset released by the Office of National Statistics, with analysis of all core cities in England and Wales, alongside Derby, Leicester, Cambridge, Southampton, and Winchester, followed by a detailed case study of Nottingham (UK) and its extended suburban boundary.


Cauvain, J., Long, G., Whiteley, T., & Farcot, E. (2022). Show me the money: Income inequality and segregation in UK cities. Area, 54(4), 591-601.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 22, 2022
Online Publication Date Feb 1, 2022
Publication Date 2022-12
Deposit Date Feb 10, 2022
Publicly Available Date Feb 10, 2022
Journal Area
Print ISSN 0004-0894
Electronic ISSN 1475-4762
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 54
Issue 4
Pages 591-601
Keywords Geography, Planning and Development
Public URL
Publisher URL


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