We developed Propinquity as a platform to compare how income inequality manifests over urban space. The spatial dimension of income inequality is critical to understanding disparities in access to services like transportation and health. Our work has previously focused on income segregation in which we find the concentration of wealth as a dominating feature, in spite of longstanding academic attention to the concentration of poverty. In other words, cities in most countries have areas of high concentration of wealth that tend to be associated with resource hoarding and exclusion. This project aims to make the structure of inequality more visible by allowing the visualization of inequality in a large number of cities. In addition to segregation, the data emphasize the macro-structure of cities. For example, how Paris is not only segregated by neighborhoods but also between a wealthy west and lower income east; a wealthier center and bespoke suburbs that fall along the spectrum of income.
The project relies on a collection of census data at a small geographic scale (on average, the size of a central neighborhood or small suburban town, usually between 5,00 and 5,000 people depending on the country) from 6 countries. For all included countries, we included all metropolitan areas larger than 500,00 people. We developed measures to make income variables and geographic units more comparable. A detailed overview of methods and results is available in our working paper.
This is the first version of this project. In this iteration, we focused on developing the infrastructure and tools for comparing data across countries. Future versions will focus on expanding the number of countries included through a shift in focus away from income (which is unavailable in many countries that otherwise have small scale data) to a multidimensional measure of spatial inequality.
Propinquity benefited from generous support from UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate’s Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Program in Real Estate, Finance and Urban Economics.
Andre is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Urban Planning and Spatial Analysis at the USC Price School of Public Policy and Visiting Scholar. His research focuses on segregation in the United States and in comparative perspective.
Paavo is an Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. His research focuses on housing policy and urban segregation in North America and in comparative perspective.