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Rich and poor more and more segregated in the Paris region

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Over the months of yellow vests demonstrations, the public debate has focused on the rural urban divide and the resources consumed by the Paris region of Île-de-France. But a new study shows that the richest region of the country is also the most profoundly unequal.

The greater Paris region of Île-de-France is home to nearly 19% of the French population and represents 30% of the country’s GDP, but The report “Gentrification and Growing Poverty in the Heart of Île-de-France” published Monday by the Institute of Urbanism and Urbanism (IAU) shows that inequalities have increased considerably since the early 2000s.

“With the movement of yellow vests, there has been a lot of talk about poverty as a rural problem, as if cities were always better off,” the author of the report Mariette Sagot told FRANCE 24. “But that’s not true. There are poor suburban and rural areas, but severe poverty remains an urban phenomenon.”

His study of household income data from 2001 to 2015 paints a startling picture of worsening inequalities and entrenched segregation in the country’s largest metropolis.

The richest and the poorest more isolated

“What we’ve seen since 2010 in particular is a new concentration of wealth in rich areas, while poverty has taken root more in poorer areas,” Sagot said. The rich are particularly likely to live among themselves.

Half of the richest households (the richest 10 percent) live in 26 of Isle-from France 1276 communes.

At the same time, the overall poverty rate in Île-de-France reached 15.9% in 2015, against 12.3% nine years earlier.

The poorest areas experience “a concentration of underqualified workers, often immigrants, with higher unemployment or precarious employment rates, and a growing number of single parent households which have contributed to the stigma and deterioration of economic conditions ”, underlines the report.

Gentrification and fractured urban fabric

With housing prices reaching € 11,000 / m² in the most desirable districts, young working people and wealthy households are settling in the traditionally bourgeois and working-class districts of Paris and its inner suburbs.

“When we see prices climb by 14% in the 19th arrondissement (a district on the north-eastern outskirts of Paris), it’s not because people are making more money there”, Bertrand Savouré, president of the Society of Accountants of Greater Paris says Le Parisien newspaper. “These are new populations arriving.”

But gentrification is not uniform in these cities. Middle and high-income residents settle in neighborhoods with easy access to Paris, parks, the river or wealthier neighborhoods, reproducing the segregation patterns of the large metropolis on a neighborhood scale.

“There are growing inequalities within these peripheral mixed-income municipalities. The urban fabric is increasingly fragmented and segregated, with some neighborhoods getting richer while others are getting poorer, ”said Sagot.

For example, in the city of Montreuil, east of Paris, the streets closest to the capital have become more expensive, while conditions “deteriorate in the east,” according to the report.

Traditionally modest suburban neighborhoods that are best served by transport have become considerably gentrified, but neighboring areas have become impoverished, with purchasing power falling by nearly 6% in towns like Saint-Ouen, just to the north. from Paris.

Housing as a social marker

As house prices tripled between 1999 and 2018, housing has become a more important indicator of the economic situation, with home owners becoming richer and residents of public housing increasingly poorer relative to the economy. average household.

Mobility in the housing market is also declining. High house prices and low economic mobility mean that populations in rich and poor areas are crystallizing as people stay in their homes longer.

Families are less likely to have moved in the past two years, especially if they are living in social housing. Social housing, once seen as a stepping stone to home ownership or rental on the private market, has become permanent for many.

Thanks to a French law that obliges many jurisdictions to maintain a 25 percent social housing stock, the poorest populations do not move away from the city. Those who move to remote suburbs, Sagot said, are middle-income families with young children who want single-family homes and more space.

Her study, she says, shows the importance of considering systemic inequalities within small communities instead of broader comparisons between urban and rural or semi-rural areas.


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