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Neighbourhood choice, neighbourhood sorting, and neighbourhood effects

Final Report Summary - NBHCHOICE (Neighbourhood choice, neighbourhood sorting, and neighbourhood effects)

NBHCHOICE investigated so-called neighbourhood effects: the idea that living in deprived neighbourhoods has a negative effect on residents’ life chances over and above the effect of their individual characteristics. Despite the interest in neighbourhood effects, we do not know enough about the causal mechanisms which produce them, their relative importance compared to individual characteristics such as education, and under which circumstances and where these effects are important. NBHCHOICE used large longitudinal datasets from The Netherlands, UK and Sweden and had three objectives 1) to further develop the theoretical framework linking neighbourhood choice and neighbourhood effects 2) to empirically investigate neighbourhood choice over the life course, and 3) to integrate models of neighbourhood choice with models of neighbourhood effects. NBHCHOICE has functioned as a multiplier of research funding for my research group. The CIG grant allowed me to invest in research proposals, which resulted in the winning of a 2 million Euro ERC grant (DEPRIVEDHOODS). NBHCHOICE has also acted as an accelerator of my academic career: I was promoted to a permanent full time senior professorship; I have been able to build up my own research group of 20 people; I have developed an extensive network in policy and practice in the Netherlands and abroad; I have set up a safe data room (data lab) with remote access computers with direct access to Statistics Netherlands; and I have invested in unique longitudinal individual level register data with detailed geo-coding. The CIG project has resulted in 24 invited presentations/lectures; 50 other knowledge exchange events with media, government etc.; 21 peer reviewed journal articles in highly ranked academic journals; 1 edited book and two book chapters; 1 PhD thesis; and 22 IZA working papers.

Regarding the first objective on developing a theoretical framework, NBHCHOICE has made a few major steps. In the first two years, the project has delivered an agenda setting paper with 10 challenges for neighbourhood effects research and it has produced two papers which bring the time dimension more explicitly into the neighbourhood effects discussion. In the last two years of funding the project has produced a paper which proposes that residential mobility should be re-conceptualised as a relational practice that links lives through time and space while connecting people to structural conditions; a paper theorising various dimensions of segregation; and a book on socio-economic segregation which includes an extensive theoretical model. Regarding the second objective on investigating neighbourhood choice over the life course, the first two years of NBHCHOICE showed that it is important to investigate neighbourhood histories of individuals using innovative visualisation techniques; it has showed that it is important to distinguish different ethnic groups when investigating segregation and neighbourhood choice; and it has showed that low levels of residential segregation reduce workplace segregation. In the second two years of funding the project has produced a PhD thesis by Sanne Boschman (2015) on selective mobility, segregation and neighbourhood effects. The project also resulted in several papers investigating neighbourhood choice. Work on the third objective to integrate models of neighbourhood choice with models of neighbourhood effects is ongoing and will be continued within the ERC project DEPRIVEDHOODS.

Especially the book “Socio-Economic Segregation in European Capital Cities” (Routledge, 2016) has received a lot of attention. The book’s website ( which contains a summary animation has been viewed more than 14,000 times. The findings have been covered by the media in the US, UK, Sweden, Estonia, The Netherlands, Spain, Austria, Germany, Norway and Belgium, and have led to interviews published in high-profile newspapers including the Washington Post, The Financial Times, The Guardian, El Pais, Die Zeit, and NRC Handelsblad. The book has also featured on radio and TV in the Netherlands, Sweden, Estonia, and Spain, and in a range of magazines and websites for professionals and practitioners. The finding that socio-economic segregation is increasing has led to questions in Parliament in the Netherlands and Spain, national discussions in Sweden and Estonia, and high profile attention from the OECD and the European Commission. The book has resulted in numerous invitations for presentations and keynote speeches. The results have also found their way into reports by the OECD and the EU on the state of cities.