-Atlantic : In 2020, France Stratégie published “The evolution of residential segregation in France : 1990-2015 ». What do these data tell us about the concentration of immigrants or children of immigrants? ? How focused do they live, even isolated from the rest of the population ?
Pierre-Yves Cusset : To measure how “segregated” a population category is, i.e. unequally distributed within an agglomeration, we use an index that evaluates the percentage of members of the group studied who would have to change their neighborhood of residence so that the weight of this group is the same from one neighborhood to another. In the major cities of metropolitan France, immigrants of European origin and their children are distributed very evenly. Immigrants of non-European origin and their children are more heterogeneously distributed in the segregation index of 25-54 years immigrants of non-European origin was 33 % in 2015, that of less than 18 years living with at least one non-European immigrant parent from 38 %. Concretely, this means that 38% children of non-European immigrants would have to change neighborhoods if we wanted to equalize their weight among the 0-18 years in all neighborhoods. Note that the children of executives have a segregation index of the same order of magnitude.
Concentration refers to another phenomenon : it increases both with the level of segregation (unequal distribution) and with the overall weight of the category studied. A category of population may be poorly distributed over the territory, but if its numbers remain very low, it will never represent a significant part of the population of a neighborhood. The concentration index of young people from non-European immigration is high because it is a category that is both fairly poorly distributed over the territory (cf. previous point) and which can represent a significant proportion of young people in certain urban areas among those under 18 ans, the share of children living with at least one non-European immigrant parent was 16% in France in 2015, proportion which reached 26 % in agglomerations of more than 100 000 habitants, et 37% in the Paris conurbation. The proportion of young people living with two non-European immigrant parents was, on the other hand, lower, at 10 % in large cities (16% in the urban unit of Paris). However, these young people are particularly concentrated in certain neighborhoods : the concentration index of children with at least one non-European immigrant parent was 42% in agglomerations of more than 100 000 inhabitants in 2015. This means that if we draw lots for a young person living at least one non-European immigrant parent in these large cities, on average, it will be observed that he lives in a neighborhood where 42% of young people themselves live with at least one non-European immigrant parent. As for the concentration index of 25-54 years immigrants of non-European origin, he was from 26%.
What is the trend of this evolution over the last years/decades? ?
Pierre-Yves Cusset : In large cities, the trend is towards a better spatial distribution of immigrants of non-European origin and their children. The segregation index of 25-54 years immigrants of non-European origin went from 36 % at 33 % on average between 1990 et 2015. There is a decrease in 3 points also for under 18 years living with at least one non-European immigrant parent (of 41 % at 38 % in between 1990 et 2015).
But in parallel, the weight of non-European immigrants and their children has risen quite sharply in urban areas of more than 100 000 habitants : immigrants from outside Europe represented 8,6% of the 25-54 years in 1990 against 15% in 2015. The weight of the children of at least one non-European immigrant among the under 18 years has passed over the same period of 15,8% at 26,5%, that of children living with two non-European immigrant parents moving from 8 at 10% less than 18 years on average. Their concentration index therefore increased, not because of increased segregation, but the increase in their share of the population.
To sum up, the residential segregation of immigrants and their children is rather oriented (slightly) on the decline. But the increase in their weight in the population, and particularly in large cities, fact that we find more and more neighborhoods, or even municipalities, where children of immigrant origin are in the majority among those under 18 ans.
What could be the keys to explaining this phenomenon? ?
Pierre-Yves Cusset : Many phenomena contribute to the segregation of the different categories of the population, segregation that can be experienced (relegation) or chosen (search for a certain between oneself, in executives in particular). About immigrants and their children, we immediately think of the cost of housing : The new comers, often poor, look to neighborhoods where there is cheap housing and which are not too far from employment areas. Other mechanisms may play : presence of a pre-existing diaspora, family or community solidarity but also difficulties in finding housing elsewhere due to phenomena of discrimination.
To what extent can residential segregation make integration more difficult? ?
Pierre-Yves Cusset : Growing up and living in an environment where social difficulties are concentrated can first of all cloud an individual's prospects for academic and professional success., and increase a number of health and social risks it may face : health problems, addiction, delinquency, early pregnancies, etc. In this case, we speak of “neighborhood effects”.. The mechanisms underlying these effects are varied. They can be linked to the influence of social groups (pairs, parents, teachers, etc.), neighborhood resources (quality of local services, access to employment, isolement spatial), or the perception that others have of this neighborhood (phenomena of discrimination linked to the place of residence) . But the phenomena of segregation can also undermine the cohesion of society more generally., by contributing to the emergence of parallel societies, who no longer share the same cultural codes, nor the same aspirations. If some fear above all the phenomena of communitarianism on a religious and/or ethnic basis, others will tend to denounce the self-segregation of the elites.
Is the analysis of France Strategy in this study still relevant to understanding the current situation?
Jean-Paul Gourévitch : The scientific analyzes of France-Strategie, a forward-looking body attached to the Prime Minister, rarely leave indifferent. We remember that in 2020 the maps he had published on the basis of a survey conducted in 55 urban units of more than 100 000 habitants, had shown the arithmetic progression of the number of children from immigrant backgrounds in the towns concerned and forced some of the media to take all of this into account.
This time, by studying from the IRIS (Islands grouped together for Statistical Information) urban segregation in cities over 100 000 habitants, France-Strategie proposes itself on the basis of two concepts , the segregation index (or if you want the social and ethnic homogenization of the populations in these small islands) and the concentration index (or if you want the majority weight of these populations in these islands ) to shed light on a societal debate that Hugues Lagrange, Christophe Guilluy, Laurent Obertone or Jérôme Fourquet have greatly invigorated. It is important, for example, to know whether the scientific conclusions of the experts from France Stratégie demonstrate that the distribution of residents in the housing stock has contributed or not to social diversity and even more so whether they provide us with the keys to analyzing the current outburst of urban violence.
Without calling into question the profusion of graphics, tableaux, pie charts or book references produced in these 111 pages nor the seriousness of the conduct of the study, we must make two preliminary observations.
This study published in 2020 covers a very long period (25 ans ) and well before the current situation which has evolved since 2015. The figures quoted are relatively outdated. When France-Strategies reveals to us, for example, that in these urban units of more than 100 000 inhabitants the share of less than 18 years of foreign origin has passed between 1990 et 2015 of 24 at 30%, it highlights a constant trend but does not provide any indication of the current percentage.
This study is based on a statistical basis, the INSEE Saphir database, the authors of which themselves acknowledge that it does not give any indication of the country of birth of the parents and their migratory origin ; which partly limits the analyzes concerning children to the very small fraction of those born abroad.
But what seems to me to make any extrapolation of these analyzes to the current situation questionable, it is that it ignores not only the existence of irregular immigration but above all the importance of the informal economy and the mechanisms it develops. Affirmation of the group by the transgression and solidarity of all the beneficiaries with those who would have been arrested, mobilization of an entire age group with definition of the territory to be controlled and capitalization of means of protection and counter-attack against designated enemies, distribution of roles according to risk, redistribution of profits to the population of the sector, which it thus subjects to the double law of profit and omerta. This informal economy which escapes all control of the State which does not know how to repress or manage it, and which is not only the fact of immigration, represents today as we have shown near 25% of the nation's GDP.
It seems to me a bit illusory in these conditions to wonder how to act for more integration and less communitarianism if we disregard these decisive factors..