Is Sydney a divided city ethnically?

Michael Poulsen*, Ron Johnston, James Forrest

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Recent claims that Sydney's ethnic residential concentrations are a permanent feature and that the city is rapidly turning into a city bifurcated along an ethnic divide cannot be sustained by the evidence. An understanding of multicultural policies as they operate in Australia, and of segregation as essentially a transitory phenomenon there, suggests that social bifurcation is unlikely to occur. Immigrant concentrations in the poor suburbs are nothing new, and do not imply the entrapment of ethnic groups. While immigrant residential concentrations are increasing in size, commensurate with the influx of large numbers of migrants from non-English speaking backgrounds over the past 30 years, the evidence suggests that claims of bifurcation are a product of the usage of birthplace data, the aggregation of ethnic groups into just two groups and a failure to take account of the degree of mixing. Evidence from both birthplace and ancestry data, using different levels of ethnic aggregation and more appropriate analyses shows that Sydney is dominated by an intermixing of different ethnic groups with each other and with the host society, and not by high levels of ethnic segregation. Ancestry data from the 2001 Census show the spatial assimilation into the host society of the grandchildren, but less so the children, of immigrants in Sydney with similar rates for both the white non-Anglo-Celtic and the Asian populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-377
Number of pages22
JournalAustralian Geographical Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2004


Dive into the research topics of 'Is Sydney a divided city ethnically?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this