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Segregation in population scale social networks

16 May 2023 , 10:00 11:00 CEST

Lecture by Eelke Heemskerk and Yuliia Kazmina at the Sociology Department of Utrecht University

We propose a social network-aware approach to study socio-economic segregation. The key question is whether patterns of segregation are more pronounced in social networks than the common spatial manifestations of segregation. We conduct a population-scale social network analysis to uncover socio-economic segregation at a comprehensive and highly granular level. At the basis of this analysis is high quality register data consisting of complete information on $\sim$17.2 million registered residents of the Netherlands that are connected through 1.3 billion ties distributed over four distinct tie types. By comparing income assortativity between the social network and the spatial perspective, we find that the social network structure exhibits  a factor of two higher segregation.  This may signal  that while at a particular  scale of spatial aggregation (e.g., the geographical  neighborhood), patterns of socio-economic segregation appear to be minimal,  they in fact persist in the underlying social network structure. Furthermore, we discover higher socioeconomic segregation in larger cities as opposed to a widespread view of cities as hubs for diverse socioeconomic mixing. A population scale  social network perspective hence offers a way to uncover hitherto “hidden” segregation that extends beyond spatial neighborhoods and infiltrates multiple aspects of human life.