All Scales of Complexity: Potential Fallacies and Assets of Multiscale Bespoke Neighbourhoods for Studying Contextual Effects

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientific


Neighbourhood effects research identifies a variety of mechanisms through which residential context may influence individual socioeconomic status. These contextual influences operate at different spatial scales, and, what is more, the scale may not remain constant in various settings. Yet, most empirical studies use predefined administrative units, often at only one scale, as proxies for neighbourhood, and look at single cities. Bespoke neighbourhoods, delineated around each person, sometimes at a few spatial scales, challenge the predominant understanding of neighbourhood as a single static unit. This paper examines to which extent the estimates of neighbourhood effects vary when residential context is measured at various spatial scales in different urban settings, and what are potential assets and fallacies of bespoke neighbourhoods for studying contextual effects. Using individual-level geocoded data for the whole population of the Netherlands, we delineated areas of 101 different sizes around each residential location. We measured socioeconomic compositions of these areas, and modelled their effects on personal income to observe changes of the effect over distance. We found that the contextual effects vary over scales in different ways in different urban settings, with the biggest effect not necessarily operating at the smallest spatial scale. This means that using an
inappropriate spatial scale can considerably bias the results of neighbourhood effects models and that the geographical setting is crucial for the scalar variability of contextual effects. Ultimately, the paper identifies potential fallacies and assets of multiscale bespoke neighbourhood for understanding residential contexts and their effects on individual socioeconomic status.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventENHR Conference 2019: Housing of the Next European Social Model - Harokopio University, Department of Geography, Athens, Greece
Duration: 27 Aug 201930 Aug 2019


ConferenceENHR Conference 2019
Abbreviated titleENHR 2019
Internet address


  • neighbourhood effects
  • spatial scale
  • bespoke neighbourhoods
  • distance profile
  • socioeconomic status


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