By OECD, 2017


The socio-economic divide has been on the rise in Europe over the past decades, and has intensified since the onset of the global financial crisis. High and rising inequality harms our societies in many respects, not least in terms of economic growth. It can hamper social cohesion, results in lost opportunities for many, and can even result in worse health outcomes. 

Inequality can also lower social trust in in institutions and fuel political and social instability, in a number of ways. First, the higher the level of economic inequality, the higher will be the “social barriers” between groups and the less individuals will feel familiar with and connect to other people. Second, inequality may generate a perception of injustice: it is difficult to develop trust in others if they are seen as having unfair advantages. Finally, unequal communities may disagree over how to share (and finance) public goods, and those disagreement can turn break social ties and lessen social cohesion. Broken trust can lead to intolerance and discrimination and there is growing concern across European countries and more globally over the association with political instability.

By Emanuele Strano and Vishal Sood, 2016


Recent advances in the urban science make broad use of the notion of scaling. We focus here on the important scaling relationship between the gross metropolitan product (GMP) of a city and its population (pop). It has been demonstrated that GMP / Y Ypopβ with β always greater than 1 and close to 1.2. This fundamental finding highlights a universal rule that
holds across countries and cultures and might explain the very nature of cities. However, in an increasingly connected world, the hypothesis that the economy of a city solely depends on its population might be questionable. Using data for 248 cities in the European Union between 2005 and 2010, we found a double GMP/pop scaling regime. For West EU cities, β = 1 over the whole the period, while for post-communist cities β > 1 and increases from *1.2 to*1.4. The evolution of the scaling exponent describes the convergence of postcommunist European cities to open and liberal economies. We propose a simple model of economic convergence in which, under stable political conditions, a linear GMP/pop scaling
is expected for all cities. The results suggest that the GMP/pop super-linear scaling represents a phase of economic growth rather than a steady, universal urban feature. The results also suggest that relationships between cities are embedded in their political and economic context and cannot be neglected in explanations of cities, urbanization and urban

By Sarah Blandy and Diane Lister, 2003


Gated Communities are becoming increasingly common across England, yet very little is known about the impact these developments have upon the residents of the wider community or those within the confines of the gates. This paper draws on empirical research carried out in a gated community in the north of England and explores community values and social ties amongst the gated residents in addition to their legal rights and responsibilities contained in their lease. The data suggests that gated residents’ rights and responsibilities are, by and large, confined to legalities and management functions within the development and do not extend to a commitment to enhance social networks either within the development or in the adjacent wider community. The paper concludes that this form of living with a strong legal regime, close monitoring of behaviour and weakening of social ties inevitably has far reaching implications for community cohesion.

By Sarah Blandy, 2018


This article reviews developments over the past ten years which have led to an increase in architectural and technological defensiveness of both individual homes and of neighbourhoods. It argues that this is the result of a combination of prevailing structural conditions: neoliberal state policies that bolster responsible home ownership and aim to reduce public spending; an emphasis on the market which opens the way for developers and the security, insurance and associated industries to make profits; loss of place-based community which cannot be replaced by the legal frameworks which bind the residents of private enclaves; an increase in house prices causing homes to be viewed primarily as financial assets; fear of crime fuelled by the media; and a lack of government policies to prevent the further growth of gated communities.