Working Paper, Institute of Urban and Regional Development 2011-03
The spatial distribution of households of different income groups in urban areas has drawn longstanding attention from scholars and policy makers as residential location patterns have important implications for social outcomes and the economic efficiency of cities. Recent research on the measurement of socioeconomic segregation has led to the development of an index that is explicitly spatial and accounts for the ordinal nature of income data. The index allows for a disaggregation of segregation levels by scale and income. This paper applies these new measurement techniques to Hong Kong, an ideal case study due to its high population density, high level of income inequality, and the large share of the population that lives in public housing. Findings show that levels of socioeconomic segregation in Hong Kong are high, similar to those found in the United States. However, the shape of the segregation profile across the income distribution is found to be quite different from the United States, with high-income households much more isolated than low-income households. Explanations for this include the mountainous and island geography of Hong Kong, as well as the importance of public housing in the city.