Diversity, residential segregation, concentration of migrants: a comparison across EU cities

Findings from the Data Challenge on Integration of Migrants in Cities (D4I)

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The report outlines the results of the Data Challenge on Integration of Migrants in Cities (D4I). D4I is an initiative launched at the end of 2017 by JRC to disseminate to external researchers a data set showing the concentration of migrants in EU cities at high spatial resolution. This data set was produced on the basis of ad hoc extractions of the 2011 Census data provided by the National Statistical Institutes of 8 EU Member States.

The high resolution and large coverage of the data allows for the first time to calculate and compare indicators of concentration, spatial residential segregation and ethnic diversity across a large number of EU cities of all sizes and different degrees of urbanisation.

Knowing where migrants reside constitutes an essential layer of information to examine issues of integration of migrants at local level and understanding the factors which may shape attitudes towards migration in the receiving society.

Among the 24 research projects which took part in the data challenge, 10 have been selected on the basis of their scientific value and policy relevance. The main findings from these research projects have been presented to policy makers in a dedicated workshop held in Brussels on 27 November 2018 and are summarised in this report.

The 10 studies use different methodological approaches borrowed from geographical, sociological and economic disciplines and cover different sets of countries and cities. They exemplify the potential and importance of analysing different aspects of ethnic diversity and residential segregation in EU cities. They provide new insights on the following themes:

  • the effect of using different geographical scales and units of analysis when measuring segregation (Chapter 2.1 and 2.6);
  • the need to consider ethnic segregation also a feature of small cities (Chapter 2.2);
  • the heterogeneity in the patterns of distribution of migrants groups across different EU cities (Chapter 2.3 and 2.5);
  • a new theoretical definitions of migration-related diversity based on the empirical relations between segregation and diversity (Chapter 2.4);
  • the possibility to identify host spots with particularly high level of concentration of migrants (Chapter 2.7);
  • the effects of high levels of concentration of migrants and asylum seekers on the housing market (Chapter 2.8 and 2.9);
  • the accessibility of migrants to local transport systems (Chapter 2.10).

With the expansion of international migration, EU cities are characterised by increased (ethnic) diversity. High shares of migrants from certain origins may result in residential segregation in specific areas of the city. Although diversity and residential segregation do not necessarily entail a lack of socio-economic integration, they nonetheless represent measureable dynamics useful to understand how migrants interact with the receiving society (and vice versa).

The results of the D4I workshop indicate that, whenever data is available at high level of spatial detail, the calculation of residential segregation and diversity is a mature field of research which can provide concrete policy support for local administrations to design evidence-based and targeted integration measures.

From a research perspective, the most advanced methodological developments lie in the definition of the best geographical scale for the calculation of indicators and in the analysis of the temporal dynamics of segregation. The combination between residential data with other micro-data and indicators on income, education, accessibility to housing and other public services will allow to obtain ground-breaking insight on the observed patterns of spatial residential segregation and their effects on socio-economic integration processes.

From a policy perspective, the feedback provided by the participants to the D4I final workshop have indicated the need to distinguish carefully residential segregation from other forms of socio-economic integration of migrants, even discursively; to contextualise the findings from a purely quantitative approach with qualitative and on-the-ground research; to engage local authorities in the use of data and indicators, which are starting to be generated for the first time at a geographical scale of neighbourhoods, thus allowing for cross-countries and cross-cities comparisons.