In 50 years, executive and intermediate professions have moved to the outskirts of cities

A report by France Strategy shows that intermediate and managerial professions have moved to the periphery, where their presence was “weak”.

According to the France Strategy report, middle professions and executives are higher represented on the outskirts of cities than before, while the working classes are lower represented in city centres. In an analytical note, the authors attempt to map the “residential segregation” of the population between 1968 and 2019, based on the scale of the “catchment area” of the 50 largest cities in metropolitan France.

La Place de Limo: where is the new housing being built?  - 03/27
La Place de Limo: where is the new housing being built? – 03/27

They recall that this segregation refers to “the unequal distribution in space of different categories of the population.” Instead of the traditional opposition between center and periphery, the authors based themselves on the triptych of “commune-centre”, suburbs and periphery, in order to better take into account peri-urban municipalities. This segregation may result from individual choices, “motivated by the search for community”, or from a “community phenomenon”, particularly linked to the price of housing.

A previous report by the same organization studied the distribution in 2020 Population between 1990 and 2015 At the scale of urban areas and neighborhoods. They concluded that there was “stability” or even a “slight decline” in residential segregation. “We had very stable indices that could hide the increase in separation when zooming out and looking at things from a long distance. We missed things,” Pierre-Yves Cusset, co-author of the note, commented on Wednesday.

“A homogenization of their distribution”

For fifty years, the demographic growth of large cities has been driven primarily by suburban areas. Intermediate professions and executives have moved to the periphery, where their presence was “weak”, reflecting “a homogenization of their distribution” between the centre, the suburbs and the periphery, France Strategy believes.

In contrast, “the distribution of workers and employees, homogeneous in the late 1960s, is lower today” because “their demographic weight has generally decreased in the central municipalities and increased in the surrounding areas”. But “the socio-professional category does not explain everything,” said Pierre-Yves Cusset. Within the same category “very different things happen depending on whether the person is an immigrant or not”. Among the working classes in the provinces, immigrants are more present in the center and in the inner suburbs, observe the authors, for example. France Strategy says this “also applies to immigrants from more privileged social categories”.

The Paris group, which differs from all the others, records “strong under-representation in the central municipality of working-class categories, including immigrants”.

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