Just over a month ago, StatsSA released a study called “Mapping Diversity: an exploration of our social tapestry.” While I didn’t get round to posting about it, it’s taken up an unusual amount of one-on-one conversation time since. And my feeling is: not enough people got to see it.

So here are the highlights:


Here’s Joburg (the most ‘diverse’):


Here’s Cape Town:


And here’s Port Elizabeth (the ‘most segregrated’):


The whole project was based on a similar project done on Chicago, by www.radicalcartography.net:


I mean, clearly, South Africa is not the only country struggling with segregation in its cities.

Here is some more from the US (from the work done by the Demographic Research Group at the Weldon Cooper Centre for Public Service):

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[The Preamble]
New York and Newark

And because it’s topical this morning, here’s London (seriously, go and check out Andrew Whitby’s work at his website – these maps come from there):

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And the greater UK:

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Three things:

  1. Clearly, cities tend to be a lot more diverse that outlying areas, even if there’s a tendency toward inner-city segregation – which does seem to suggest that diversity is good for (social) liberalism, seeing as cities are far more likely to lean politically leftward;
  2. Particularly in South Africa, the signs of apartheid are clear – just look at how far away the ‘townships’ of Cape Town and Port Elizabeth are from the CBD;
  3. But even so, I think that it’s sometimes hard to draw a line between ‘racial segregation’ and ‘community’. If you look at a city like London, which had large waves of Asian immigrants from the Commonwealth in the middle of the last century, those communities have become entrenched in certain regions of Greater London. But can we really call that pure ‘racial segregation’? Or is it more a case of immigrants choosing to live near family, near their mosques/temples/churches, and near where their friends are?

Just a thought.

Happy Thursday.

Rolling Alpha posts about finance, economics, and sometimes stuff that is only quite loosely related. Follow me on Twitter @RollingAlpha, or like my page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rollingalpha. Or both.