Urban structure and segregation: A century in Barcelona

After a year of work, the team of professors of the department of applied economics of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona,formed by Miguel Ángel García-López, Rosella Nicolini and José-Luis Roig Sabaté, winners of the Aid to the Research Legacy Pasqual Maragall 2017, presented the first results of the study on urban structure and segregation in Barcelona, pending the final publication of the complete research. This subject perfectly matches one of the most important fields of interest of Pasqual Maragall, who addressed the price of the sun in Barcelona in his doctoral thesis, with an empirical study of prices based on the theses of the classic authors.

The study of these three professors of economics takes as the starting point the first years of the 20th century and extends to the present day. Barcelona, ??the authors explain, has the peculiarity of being from the few European cities that began to receive migratory waves since the end of the nineteenth century, which leads us to consider the hypothesis of a potential problem of urban segregation since early twentieth century. With this study, the researchers propose analyzing the differences in the price of the sun in Barcelona from the city center (considering as center two main points: Plaça Catalunya and Plaça dels Cinc d'Oros) towards the periphery during the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century, a good indicator to measure the existence of urban segregation within the city. The result is that, according to the differences in the price of the land between the center and the periphery, Barcelona does not suffer a serious problem of segregation. In addition, as can be seen in the chart below, throughout the century there has been a progressive decrease in the difference between the price of the sun in the center and the price of the sun on the periphery.

The decline that occurs between 1902 and 1960 is attributed, according to the authors, to an improvement in public transport throughout the city. But what has been the trigger for the price of the sun has tended to be homogenized in recent years? For the researchers, one of the hypotheses is the "decentralization of the center", that is, the administrative decentralization of Barcelona, ??promoted during the years that Pasqual Maragall was mayor and that has contributed to diminishing the problems of social cohesion and diminished the The impact of the income factor on the choice of location of the population.

Thus, according to the authors, the distribution of the population in the city of Barcelona is more related to their preferences than to income factors. In this sense, providing services to the city in a decentralized way helps to avoid spatial segregation, although the authors of the study warn that decentralization has coordination costs and, therefore, good planning is needed to counteract this difficulty .

For this reason, the results obtained suggest that the implementation of forms of action of territorial policies close to the citizenry must be maintained, even reaching the neighborhood level. In this sense, according to the researchers, Pasqual Maragall's idea of ??introducing a network of districts with specific competencies was a success in reducing ghetto problems. To continue to study it would be interesting to extend this work regarding to the position of Barcelona in the territory and with reference to its metropolitan area.