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Dynamics of social inequality and spatial segregation in three metropolitan areas of Mexico

Marina E. Ariza, Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales, Unam
Patricio Solís, El Colegio de México
Jorge Veizaga, Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO)

In this paper we analyze changes in spatial segregation patterns between 1990 and 2000 in the three largest cities of Mexico. Recent research shows the persistence of high levels of poverty and social inequality in these cities, but it is less clear whether the gap between social strata translates into a growing geographical distance, that is, into higher levels of residential segregation. Census-tract data allow us to estimate segregation indexes by income, both at the individual and household level, as well as by other dimensions of stratification, such as education, occupational status, and migration status. Our results indicate high fluctuations in spatial segregation levels among the different dimensions of social stratification, and similar levels among the three cities. The spatial mismatch by income is high and significantly increases over time, both at the individual and household level. These results suggest that social inequality in Mexican cities has been exacerbated by the increase in geographical barriers between advantaged and poor strata, thus increasing the risk of social problems associated to the residential segregation of the poor.

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Presented in Session 31: Urban population dynamics