Ethnic residential segregation in Belgium: trap or stepping stone for social mobility?

01 October 2014 → 30 September 2017
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Developmental psychology and ageing
social mobility Belgium
Project description

Among policymakers and in public opinion, there is a strong belief that ethnic segregation
hampers the integration of ethnic minorities. Academic research about the impact of ethnic
concentration neighborhoods on the socio-economic outcomes of minorities is, however, scarce and mixed. On the one hand, concentration neighborhoods might be seen as places with a bad reputation where minorities live isolated from mainstream society and where there might be exploited by co-ethnics. On the other hand, these neighborhoods might function as ‘ethnic enclaves’ where minorities help each other through strong networks and economic niche activities.
Using unique census data, this project aims to examine over a period of 20 years and for 18
minority groups spatial transitions in Belgium, such as suburbanization and the emergence and/or disappearance of concentration neighborhoods. Subsequently, we re-conceptualize sociologically the American concept of ‘ethnic enclaves’ to current-day Europeans societies, and test this new ethnic enclave typology in Belgium. Finally, we analyze longitudinally the impact of ethnic residential segregation on social mobility. This project tackles problems of previous studies, such as the difficulty to disentangle ethnic and socio-economic neighborhood segregation, the causality between ethnic segregation and socio-economic integration, and the need to differentiate between short- and long-term effects of living in ethnic enclave neighborhoods.