Impact of spatial effects on income segregation indices

Sergio J. Rey, David C. Folch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Residential segregation is an inherently spatial phenomenon as it measures the separation of different types of people within a region. Whether measured with an explicitly spatial index, or a classic aspatial index, a region's underlying spatial properties could manifest themselves in the magnitude of measured segregation. In this paper we implement a Monte Carlo simulation approach to investigate the properties of four segregation indices in regions built with specific spatial properties. This approach allows us to control the experiment in ways that empirical data do not. In general we confirm the expected results for the indices under various spatial properties, but some unexpected results emerge. Both the Dissimilarity Index and Neighborhood Sorting Index are sensitive to region size, but their spatial counterparts, the Adjusted Dissimilarity Index and Generalized Neighborhood Sorting Index, are generally immune to this problem. The paper also lends weight to concerns about the downward pressure on measured segregation when multiple neighborhoods are grouped into a single census tract. Finally, we discuss concerns about the way space is incorporated into segregation indices since the expected value of the spatial indices tested is lower than their aspatial counterparts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-441
Number of pages11
JournalComputers, Environment and Urban Systems
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Segregation
  • Spatial effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecological Modeling
  • General Environmental Science
  • Urban Studies


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