AQMeN research briefing 8: Religious segregation in Belfast: detecting real change in patterns of population movement
More than half of the world’s population now live in cities. The processes that have caused urbanisation raise challenges with respect to social segregation as cities have become more diverse in terms of the religious, ethnic, legal and cultural backgrounds of inhabitants.
This can lead to individual neighbourhoods becoming more segregated as ‘homophily’ occurs, or in other words, ‘birds of a feather flock together’, which in turn raises questions about the best way to plan cities and design social policy to avoid social conflict.
The aim of this research was to develop a way to estimate the Dissimilarity Index - the most widely used measure of segregation - taking account of uncertainty due to special autocorrelation. We applied this new method of identifying genuine change in the Dissimilarity Index to Belfast which allowed us to identify significant change in where people of different religions live in relation to each other. The ability to identify these patterns will be of use to policy makers involved in urban planning, community development and in tackling segregation and should give reassurance to those who are concerned about increasing segregation in Belfast.
Read more about this project in AQMeN research briefing 8.