What is it about?

Economic and cultural diversity enrich communities, organisations, boost innovative ideas and in the long run provide a ground for tolerance and social inclusion. However, diversity may also lead to social tensions and self-segregation. We use spatial econometric techniques to explore whether an individual sharing geographical space with other fellow citizens of different socio-economic characteristics, in terms of income and education, affect her preferences to become civically engaged. The context of study is the three largest Italian cities, Milan, Rome, and Naples. We find that living near fellow citizens embodying different socio-economic characteristics (in terms of education and income) decreases her probability of being civically engaged.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

Income and education affect individuals’ tastes, habit, behaviour towards their fellow citizens, as well as their decisions about with whom to interact and their perception of what is and is not appropriate. Understanding how social-economic diversity interrelates with social cohesion and civic engagement offers important insights into the ability of local communities to drive and shape their future. Additionally, these results clearly suggest that a key challenge when designing urban policies is to reconcile the positive effects of diversity as it influences different economic-societal aspects, with the associated social tensions.


Understanding civic engagement from a geographical perspective is extremely important. Particularly in large urban areas where segregation and deep socio-economic inequalities have an impact on citizens’ civicness and social cohesion.

Dr Luca Andriani
Birkbeck University of London

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Civic engagement and socio-economic proximity in urban areas, Spatial Economic Analysis, March 2023, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/17421772.2023.2180532.
You can read the full text:



The following have contributed to this page