International Choice Modelling Conference, International Choice Modelling Conference 2017

Font Size: 
Ethnic segregation and residential location choice in Cape Town
Tatjana Ibraimovic, Stephane Hess, Mark Zuidgeest, Hazvinei Tsitsi Tamuka Moyo

Last modified: 28 March 2017


Ethnic pluralism and its increasing trend across the globe has sparked debate on residential segregation, a phenomenon that has various repercussions at economic, social and urban levels of modern societies. Indeed, social integration and cohesion in residential areas is seen as one of the main challenges of urban development today. Two key issues arise: on one side, an increasing residential‐spatial gap between the affluent and less affluent social classes, on the other hand geographical separation between inhabitants of different origins, cultures and religions.

We address these issues in the specific context of Cape Town, where we analyse the ethnic determinants of residential location choice and compare them to those found in a similar study in a developed world setting. This work is timely, as many of the issues alluded to above are of concern in the case of Cape Town.  In 2011, the population of Cape Town was made up of 42,4% Coloured, 38,6% black African, 15,7% white, 1,4% Indian / Asian and other 1,9% (Statssa, 2011).  The Group Areas Act of 1950 left post apartheid South African cities with residential spatial patterns where blacks, coloured , whites and indians stayed in seperated neighbourhoods. In the recent past, public housing policy like the Breaking New  Ground policy of 2004 has tried to address the issue of housing for previoulsy marginalised groups. This policy explicitly sought to having a non-racial and integrated society. Inclusionary housing projects under this initiative have to some extent encouraged mixed race neighbourhoods. In Cape Town this has resulted in neighbourhoods such as Delft, Westlake among others having racial integration. However, this is an imposed desegregation, hence racial polarisation persists even within these mixed race neighbourhoods.  The increase in the black middle class has also introduced racial desegregation in some elite neighbourhoods but mono-racial neighbourhoods still exist in Cape Town.

Further, South Africa experiences a large influx of people from other African countries as it is regarded as a regional hegemon and economc center for Southern Africa and Africa as a whole. The census results show that 2,1%, 2,2% and 5,7% of the population sampled in 1996, 2001 and 2011 respectively were from foreign countries (Statssa,2011). Most of these people are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and Nigeria. This presents another dimension with regards to racial composition in residential areas.

In particular, a Stated Preferences experiment of neighbourhood choice (SPENC) will be used to reveal the preferences for ethnic neighbourhood composition of households from different origins and social classes. The SPENC was fisty proposed by Ibraimovic (2013) for studing ethnic preferences in the Swiss city of Lugano. The experiment involved multiple choice tasks, each time with a choice among three alternative neighbourhoods (the present neighbourhood of the respondent, and two unlabelled alternative neighbourhoods) described by two ethnic variables of interest and two other choice driving factors, including the price of the dwelling for willingness-to-pay analysis. In order to focus on neighbourhood characteristics only, respondents were asked to hypothesise that the their present dwelling (in terms of size and quality) is tranfered into other neighbourhood with different ethnic and non-ethnic characteristics. Another feature of the SPENC is its pivoted design, i.e. referencing the values of neighbourhood characteristics around the values of the experienced alternative. This adds to the credibility and realism of the experiement, adapting the experiment to hoseholds’ real housing situation as well as to the specific urban context (Ibraimovic and Masiero, 2014). Moreover, as shown in Ibraimovic and Hess (2016) it is then possible to explore the reference dependence and asymmetries in preferences for changes in the ethnic description of the neighbourhoods. This reveals the existence of non linearities in ethnic preferences, which as argued by (Schelling, 1971), under the form of weak preferences for and integrated neighbourhood, could be the driver of segregation dynamics.

Following Ibraimovic and Masiero (2014) and Ibraimovic and Hess (2016), we design a SP experiment of neighbourhood choice, adapting it to the context and specificities of Cape Town. The aim is to identify the existence and the importance of ethnic versus other residential location choice drivers, thus investigating the influence of preferences for self-clustering on ethnic segregation levels. Other than data from the choice tasks, a rich set of information will be gathered on respondents’ socio-economic and demographic characteristics as well as on their housing conditions. It will then be possible to conduct an extensive analysis on heterogeneity in preferences across households of different ethnic background, income and other relevant characteristics.

In particular, the Swiss study indicates education as a critical variable which influences ethnic preferences, where an increase in education level of respondents corresponds to a decrease in their preferences for ethnic self-segregation. Such analysis could shed light on the motivations and underlying causes of ethnic residential segregation, indicating potential determinants for a major ethnic integration useful for policy guidance. We will conclude by comparing the findings from Cape Town and Lugano and attempt to explain the differences that arise.

Conference registration is required in order to view papers.