In major metropolitan areas, gentrification, financialisation and welfare retrenchment contribute to a severe housing crisis. Over the past 20 years, home price inflation and affordable housing shrinkage have been particularly acute in Paris. Such issues have been linked to the displacement of lower-income Parisians and the suburbanisation of poverty on a regional scale.

In this article, Luc Guibard and Renaud Le Goix match disaggregated data from the Family Benefits Fund (CAF) with information on local housing markets, to empirically document these expulsionary processes. Their methodology is twofold. First, they investigate out-migration factors using logistic regressions. Second, they compare households’ changes in access to the city centre and urban resources following a move. Data show that social vulnerability is associated with a greater risk of leaving Paris and that housing welfare is playing a crucial role in mitigating this risk. Also, the higher the pressure on local housing markets, the more social inequalities determine mobility behaviour. Finally, beyond the effects of family structure, patterns of decentralisation are related to income level: less affluent households go farther from the city centre, job opportunities and services than higher-income households.

Population with CAF benefits in Paris, December 2018.

Population with CAF benefits in Paris, December 2018.

Key findings of the study
– Lower incomes, lack of asset income, and unemployment are associated with higher risks of leaving Paris.
Social housing plays an important role: it considerably increases the chances of staying in Paris, especially when the local market is under greater pressure (price factors and the impact of furnished tourist accommodation).
– Less affluent households move further away from the city center when they relocate;
– Poverty is particularly discriminatory for single-parent families.
– Those on moderate incomes (i.e., the lower middle class) are those who move further away.

Guibard, L., & Le Goix, R. (2024). Those who leave: Out-migration and decentralisation of welfare beneficiaries in gentrified Paris. Urban Studies.

Renaud LE GOIX is a Professor of Geography and Urban Studies at the Université Paris Cité (formerly Paris 7), affiliated to UMR Géographie-cités CNRS joint research unit.
Luc GUIBARD is a Ph. D. student at the Université Paris Cité and a member of Géographie-cités.