SOS9232 - Residental Segregation: Measurement and Mechanisms

Course content

Residential segregation is a common concern among social scientists because it signals social distance between groups based on characteristics such as race/ethnicity, socioeconomic standing, or immigrant status. Furthermore, segregation has been shown to lead to unequal outcomes in terms of education, income, and health in a variety of settings cross-nationally and over time. This course covers the foundational literatures on residential segregation, explains the most commonly used segregation measures, and introduces students to current, advanced measures in the field. Students will be given a brief primer on calculating segregation indices in R. Though the course focuses on residential segregation, the indices can be applied to schools, workplaces, and other organizational or geographic units. We will also review the mechanisms and processes that generate segregation and discuss ways these can be modeled to bridge the micro-macro divide.

Most segregation research over the past half century or so has been conducted in the US; therefore, most course material comes from research conducted there. However, a significant portion of the course is devoted to covering the state of the field of segregation research in the European context, with an emphasis on Scandinavia. We look at existing knowledge of trends in and levels of segregation among immigrant groups, and discuss issues of data and measurement unique to Europe.

Additionally, as a follow-up to classroom instruction, students will attend the Conference of the International Network of Analytical Sociologists (INAS) with the theme “Segregation in Schools and Neighborhoods: Causes and Consequences” in order to see examples of cutting-edge, dynamic models of segregation presented by researchers from across Europe and the US.

Learning outcome

After completion of the course, students should be able to:

- Enumerate and evaluate the dimensions and appropriate measures of segregation

- Critically examine various conceptualizations and measures of segregation

- Explain the candidate mechanisms that can generate and perpetuate segregation

- Calculate commonly used segregation indices

- Critically review academic articles on residential segregation

- Be familiar with current models of the dynamic processes and consequences of residential and school segregation.


The course is open for all interested Ph.D.-students.

Ph.D.-students at the Department of Sociology and Human Geography register for the course in StudentWeb.

Interested participants outside the Department of Sociology and Human Geography shall fill out this application form.

The deadline for registration is 10th May 2017. After the deadline shall all applicants receive a note about if the application is approved.


Place: room 301, 3rd floor, Harriet Holters Building, Blindern.


Day 1 - June 6th

9:00-10:15 Overview of the development of measuring segregation

10:30-12:00 Problems with measurement: technical and conceptual

12:00-1:00 lunch provided

1:00-2:15 Multi-group and spatial measures of segregation

2:30-4:00 Income segregation

4:00-5:00 Optional Session: Introduction to R

Dinner provided


Day 2 - June 7th

9:00-10:15 Mechanisms of segregation

10:30-12:00 The state of the field in Europe: What do we know?

12:00-1:00 lunch provided

1:00-2:15 The state of the Field in Europe: Where is it going?

2:30-4:00 Data Lab: Calculating segregation indices in R

Dinner provided


Days 3 and 4 - June 8-9th

All-day attendance at the INAS conference. Students are expected to be active participants in sessions on segregation and may be included as panel discussants, roundtable participants, or other similar roles (to be decided before the course begins, at the discretion of the conference organizers).

The course is free of charge, including the conference. Meals and accomodation (for those not living in Oslo) are provided for the four days for all participants!




Day 1

Measuring Segregation

Duncan, Otis D. and Beverly Duncan. 1955. “A Methodological Analysis of Segregation Indexes.” American Sociological Review 20(2):210–17.

James, David R. and Karl E. Taeuber. 1985. “Measures of Segregation.” Sociological Methodology 15:1–32.

Winship, Christopher. 1977. “A Revaluation of Indexes of Residential Segregation.” Social Forces 55(4):1058–66.

Taeuber, Karl E. and Alma F. Taeuber. 1976. “A Practitioner's Perspective on the Index of Dissimilarity.” American Sociological Review 41(5):884–89.

Massey, Douglas S. and Nancy A. Denton. 1988. “The Dimensions of Residential Segregation.” Social Forces 67(2):281–315.


Conceptual Problems

Grannis, Rick. 1998. “The Importance of Trivial Streets: Residential Streets and Residential Segregation.” American Journal of Sociology 103(6):1530–64.

Logan, John R. et al. 2012. “Identifying and Bounding Ethnic Neighborhoods.” Urban Geography. 100(2):130–34.

Lee, Barrett A. and Karen E. Campbell. 1997. “Common Ground? Urban Neighborhoods as Survey Respondents See Them.” Social Science Quarterly 78(4):922–36.


Multi-Group Measures

Reardon, Sean F. and Glenn Firebaugh. 2002. “Measures of Multigroup Segregation.” Sociological Methodology 32(1):33–67.


Spatial Segregation

White, Michael J. 1983. “The Measurement of Spatial Segregation.” 88(5):1008–18.

Reardon, Sean F. and David O'Sullivan. 2004. “Measures of Spatial Segregation.” Sociological Methodology 34(1):121–62.

Reardon, Sean F. et al. 2008. “The Geographic Scale of Metropolitan Racial Segregation.” Demography 45(3):489–514.

Lee, Barrett A. et al. 2008. “Beyond the Census Tract: Patterns and Determinants of Racial Segregation at Multiple Geographic Scales.” American Sociological Review 73(5):766–91.

Östh, John, William A. V. Clark, and Bo Malmberg. 2015. “Measuring the Scale of Segregation Using K-Nearest Neighbor Aggregates.” Geographical Analysis 47:34–49.


Income Segregation

Reardon, Sean F. and Kendra Bischoff. 2011. “Income Inequality and Income Segregation.” American Journal of Sociology 116(4):1092–1153.

Reardon, Sean F. 2011. “Measures of Income Segregation.” Working Paper. Stanford, California: The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality.

Bowles, Samuel, Glenn C. Loury, and Rajiv Sethi. 2014. “Group Inequality.” Journal of the European Economic Association 12:129–52.


Day 2

Mechanisms of Segregation and Bridging the Micro-Macro Divide

Schelling, Thomas C. 1971. “Dynamic Models of Segregation.” The Journal of Mathematical Sociology 1(2):143–86.

Charles, Camille Z. 2003. “The Dynamics of Racial Residential Segregation.” Annual Review of Sociology 29(1):167–207.

Crowder, Kyle D. and Maria Krysan. 2016. “Moving Beyond the Big Three: A Call for New Approaches to Studying Racial Residential Segregation.” City & Community 15(1):18–22.

Bruch, Elizabeth E. and Robert D. Mare. 2006. “Neighborhood Choice and Neighborhood Change.” 112:667–709.

Card, David, Alexandre Mas, and Jesse Rothstein. 2008. “Tipping and the Dynamics of Segregation.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 123(1):177–218.

Quillian, Lincoln. 2012. “Segregation and Poverty Concentration the Role of Three Segregations.” American Sociological Review 77(3):354–79.

Fossett, Mark. 2006. “Ethnic Preferences, Social Distance Dynamics, and Residential Segregation: Theoretical Explorations Using Simulation Analysis.” The Journal of Mathematical Sociology 30(3-4):185–273.


The state of the field in Europe

Jacobs, Dirk et al. 2009. “The Challenge of Measuring Immigrant Origin and Immigration-Related Ethnicity in Europe.” Journal of International Migration and Integration 10(1):67–88.

Musterd, Sako. 2005. “Social and Ethnic Segregation in Europe: Levels, Causes, and Effects.” Journal of Urban Affairs 27(3):331–48.

Peach, Ceri. 2009. “Slippery Segregation: Discovering or Manufacturing Ghettos?” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 35(9):1381–95.

Johnston, Ron, Michael Poulsen, and James Forrest. 2010. “Moving On from Indices, Refocusing on Mix: On Measuring and Understanding Ethnic Patterns of Residential Segregation.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 36(4):697–706.

Johnston, Ron O. N. J., James Forrest, and Michael Poulsen. 2002. “The Ethnic Geography of EthniCities.” 2(2):209–35.

Wessel, T., R. Andersson, T. Kauppinen, and H. S. Andersen. 2016. “Spatial Integration of Immigrants in Nordic Cities: The Relevance of Spatial Assimilation Theory in a Welfare State Context.” Urban Affairs Review.

Abramsson, Marianne, and Lars Erik Borgegård. 1998. “Changing Welfare States and Social Housing: Consequences for Spatial Segregation ‐ Reviewed.” Scandinavian Housing and Planning Research 15(3):149–73.

Susanne Søholt. 2013. “The Special Importance of Housing Policy for Ethnic Minorities: Evidence from a Comparison of Four Nordic Countries.” International Journal of Housing Policy 13(1):20–44.

Borevi, K., and B. Bengtsson. 2014. “The Tension between Choice and Need in the Housing of Newcomers: A Theoretical Framework and an Application on Scandinavian Settlement Policies.” Urban Studies.

Andersson, Roger, and Lena Magnusson Turner. 2014. “Segregation, Gentrification, and Residualisation: From Public Housing to Market-Driven Housing Allocation in Inner City Stockholm.” International Journal of Housing Policy 14(1):3–29

Aldén, Lina, Mats Hammarstedt, and Emma Neuman. 2014. “Ethnic Segregation, Tipping Behavior, and Native Residential Mobility.” International Migration Review 49(1):36–69.

Hårsman, Björn. 2006. “Ethnic Diversity and Spatial Segregation in the Stockholm Region.” Urban Studies 43(8):1341–64.

Bråmå, Åsa. 2008. “Dynamics of Ethnic Residential Segregation in Göteborg, Sweden, 1995–2000.” Population, Space and Place 14(2):101–17.



Sarah Valdez is Research Fellow and Deputy Director of the Institute for Analytical Sociology (IAS) at Linköping University. She has a PhD from the University of Washington and held a previous research position at the Juan March Institute, Center for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (CEACS) in Madrid before joining IAS. Her research has focused on the evolution of radical right political parties in Western Europe and the impact of segregation on anti-immigrant voting in Sweden and Denmark. She is currently P.I. on a three-year research project funded by the Swedish National Research Council FORTE which examines the effects of segregation on the educational assimilation of second-generation immigrants in Sweden. Her work has been published in Social Forces, Migration Studies, and European Sociological Review.


The entire four-day event makes up the Ph.D.-course, with the equivalent of 6 credits. For approval you need to be an active participant throughout the course, including INAS conference segregation-sessions mentioned above. Approval also includes writing a paper of about 4 000 words to be submitted by October 1st 2017. The paper should deal with some of the themes addressed in the course. Please send the paper to

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a pass/fail scale. Read more about the grading system.

Facts about this course






Spring 2017

6-9th June 2017


Spring 2017

Teaching language