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Are new patterns of low‐income distribution emerging in Canadian metropolitan areas?

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Recent studies on urban poverty in Canadian cities suggest a growing spatial concentration of poor populations within metropolitan regions. This article assesses trends in the intra‐urban distribution of the poor population from 1986 to 2006 in eight of Canada's largest cities. We consider five well‐known dimensions of segregation, as identified by Massey and Denton (1988) , in order to examine changes in the spatial distribution of poor populations within metropolitan areas: evenness, exposure, concentration, clustering, and centralization. These indices were calculated for low‐income populations at the census tract level using data from five Canadian censuses. Although each metropolitan area has distinctive characteristics, we were able to identify some general trends. The results suggest that, in 2006 compared to 1986, low‐income populations lived in more spatially concentrated areas, which were, at the same time, socioeconomically more homogeneous and more dispersed throughout the metropolitan area. In addition, we observed that over the last twenty years areas of poverty have been located, for the most part, in neighbourhoods adjacent to downtown cores. Nevertheless, we found that poverty has mostly increased in suburban areas located outside inner‐city neighbourhoods. Growing socioeconomic homogeneity and dispersion of low income areas in metropolitan areas reveal new spatial patterns of urban poverty distribution. These findings should be cause for concern as social isolation in the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods could affect the life chances and opportunities for the residents of those areas.
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Language: English

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: INRS—Centre Urbanisation Culture Société

Publication date: 01 September 2012

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