December 2017

No. 11219: The Roles of Increasing Inequality and Divergent Urban Development in Understanding Spatial Polarization in Tel-Aviv

Tal Modai-Snir, Maarten van Ham

Many studies of urban and neighbourhood change investigate changes in the relative positions of neighbourhoods within an urban region, without looking at the underlying processes. Often, changes in socio-spatial structures reflect intensifying socio-spatial divisions caused by both increasing inequality and urban development processes. This paper will examine the roles of increasing inequality and urban-development processes in reshaping the socio-spatial structure of the Tel-Aviv metropolitan area in Israel. Tel-Aviv is an interesting case study because of the persistent north-south socioeconomic divide. During the research period (1995–2008) inequality in Israel has risen substantially following the integration in the global economy; at the same time, the metropolitan area went through extensive urban development and expansion to the rural fringe. To examine the contributions associated with increasing inequality and urban-development processes to income changes among metropolitan neighbourhoods, we use a method that was originally presented in the context of individual income mobility and recently applied in the context of neighbourhood change. The results show that urban processes and inequality intensified the historical divide in different ways, and each factor can be associated with a typical spatial pattern. The interaction between the factors is diverse; in some places they reinforced each other, whereas in some they operated at opposite directions and offset each other.