Population Dynamics and Ethnic Geographies in Urban Areas: The Role of Migration and Natural Change in 1991-2001 and 2001-2011

Nissa Finney, University of St Andrews
Sylvie Gadeyne, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Lena Imeraj, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

The role of cities as ports of arrival for the diverse international immigrants in the past decades, suggests this influx to act as a fundamental mechanism for urban population change and spatial fragmentation. The increasing public concern regarding the integration of these migrants into the host society has given immigration a prominent position on the political and academic agenda. Importantly however, past and current migration flows have resulted in a growing stock of migrant populations unequally spread throughout the urban areas. Rather than a mere focus on international migration, this paper investigates the total demographic impact of migrant populations on the ethnic composition and geographic distribution in urban areas over time. To that end, in evaluating urban population change, we include the processes of internal migration and natural change in the present migrant population next to international arrivals of new migrants. This study makes use of Belgian census data of 1991, 2001 and 2011, linked to National Register data. It uses a multiple comparative approach in considering two time periods (1991-2001 and 2001-2011), five urban areas (Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi and Liège) and 12 origin groups relevant to the Belgian context. With this we contribute to key debates related to urban population dynamics, population change and spatial polarisation in the field of urban geography and population studies, thereby furthering the theoretical and empirical framework and providing a base for future policy interventions.

Presented in Poster Session 3