Multiscale contextual poverty in the Netherlands: within and between-municipality inequality

Ana Petrović, David Manley, Maarten van Ham

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11 Citations (Scopus)
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Contextual poverty refers to high proportions of people with a low income in a certain (residential) space, and it can affect individual socioeconomic outcomes as well as decisions to move into or out of the neighbourhood. Contextual poverty is a multiscale phenomenon: Poverty levels at the regional scale reflect regional economic development, while meso-scale concentrations of poverty within cities are related to city-specific social, economic and housing characteristics. Within cities, poverty can also concentrate at micro spatial scales, which are often neglected, largely due to a lack of data. Exposure to poverty at lower spatial scales, such as housing blocks and streets, is important because it can influence individuals through social mechanisms such as role models or social networks. This paper is based on the premise that sociospatial context is necessarily multiscalar,and therefore contextual poverty is a multiscale problem which can be better understood through the inequality within and between places at different spatial scales. The question is how to compare different spatial contexts if we know that they include various spatial scales. Our measure of contextual poverty embraces 101spatial scales and compares different locations within and between municipalities in the Netherlands. We found that the national inequality primarily came from the concentrations of poverty in areas of a few kilometres, located in cities, which have different spatial patterns of contextual poverty, such as multicentre, core-periphery and east-west. In addition to the inequality between municipalities, there are considerable within-municipality inequalities, particularly among micro-areas of a few hundred metres.
Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Spatial Analysis and Policy
VolumeFirst Online
Early online date1 Jun 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Jun 2021


  • Contextual poverty
  • Spatial scale
  • Spatial inequality
  • Distance profile
  • Exposure
  • Theil index


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