Tipping points? Ethnic composition change in Dutch big city neighbourhoods

Cheng Boon Ong


Micro-level studies using individual and household data have shown that residential location choices are influenced by neighbourhood ethnic composition. Using three conurbation samples in the Netherlands - Amsterdam metropolitan area, Rotterdam-The Hague metropolitan area, and the country's largest conurbation, the 'Randstad' metropolitan area - this paper analyses the evolution of neighbourhood ethnic composition as a social interaction outcome of disaggregated household behaviour. The potential 'tipping point' in neighbourhood ethnic composition, beyond which 'white flight' (or the departure of native or advantaged households) occurs, is tested. The share in neighbourhood population of native Dutch and western minority did not exhibit the hypothesised 'tipping' behaviour in its growth rate with respect to initial share of non-western minority. This paper argues that the large social housing sector, centralised tax regime, and strong regulatory role of the state in housing and urban planning, are the main explanatory factors for the relative constancy in Dutch neighbourhood ethnic composition.

Keywords: Ethnic segregation; Neighbourhood; Tipping point; Urban renewal; Regression discontinuity

JEL Classification: J15, R0, R21, R31, R58

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