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WPS No.17 | Hochstenbach, C. & Musterd, S. (2016) | Changing urban geographies through boom and bust periods: gentrification and the suburbanization of poverty

Major post-industrial cities across Europe and other contexts are marked by growing social-spatial inequalities, with housing liberalization and gentrification limiting low-income households’ housing options. We investigate changes in the residential moves of different low-income households (working poor, low-to-middle incomes, and unemployed). These moves represent the nexus where issues of displacement, exclusion and housing affordability come to the fore.

This paper focuses on Amsterdam and Rotterdam and the 2004-2013 time period with the 2008 global financial crisis as a key turning point. It finds relatively crisis-resistant trends of gentrification in the tight Amsterdam housing context and an accelerating suburbanization of poverty during the post-crisis bust. In contrast, in Rotterdam cyclical trends are more dominant with gentrification slowing down post crisis. However, the suburbanization of poverty is multifaceted and differs between low-income groups. In both cities, a growing group of working-poor households remains highly urbanized, predominantly moving to the urban periphery and employing coping strategies to find housing. Low-to-middle incomes and unemployed households increasingly move to the surrounding urban regions, particularly to higher-density satellite towns. Thus, this paper highlights the diverse nature of gentrification and the suburbanization of poverty, between and within cities.

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