The geography of an EthniCity

Residential segration of birthplace and language groups in Sydney, 1996

R. Johnston*, J. Forrest, M. Poulsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)


Many contemporary cities have a diverse ethnic-cultural mix as a result of different international migration streams, with implications for the residential distribution of various ethnic groups within those cities. Boal recently suggested a series of scenarios against which the pattern in any one place could be evaluated. These are applied to Sydney in 1996, when over 34 per cent of the residents reported a birthplace outside Australia and 30 per cent reported using a language other than English at home. Lacking data on ethnic status, the birthplace and language data are used to explore Sydney's residential geography at two spatial scales, and to identify the degree of residential segregation of each birthplace and language group. Regression analysis, used to assess the relevance of human capital to observed levels of segregation, suggests that Boal's assimilation scenario accounts for most of the observed geographies, with some additional pluralism but little evidence of polarisation. These results suggest that the dynamics of Sydney's housing market facilitate movement into most areas of demand, subject only to labour market constraints; differential access to sections of the labour market, and hence to housing market sections, is a major factor in the residential segregation of birthplace and language groups in Sydney.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)569-594
Number of pages26
JournalHousing Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Disadvantage
  • Ethnicity
  • Labour market
  • Segregation
  • Sydney housing market

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