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Linking spatial and social mobility: Is London's "escalator" as strong as it was?

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Anthony Champion



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2021.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


The ‘escalator region’ concept became a key element of migration literature after Fielding’s work on South East England and fueled a welcome growth of interest in the links between spatial and social mobility. More recent research has shown that London has continued to perform an escalator function since the 1970s, but little attention has been given to how its strength has altered both over time and compared to other parts of the UK. Against the background of the declining rates of internal migration observed in the USA and several other countries, this paper seeks to identify whether London’s escalator role was waxing or waning over the four intercensal decades between 1971 and 2011. The primary emphasis is on the chances of people shifting up from non-core to core white-collar work during each decade for London’s non-migrant and in-migrant populations, both in absolute terms and relative to England’s second-order cities. It is found that over the three decades since the 1970s London’s escalator was still performing in the way originally conceived, but while its net gain of young adults from the rest of England and Wales steadily increased over this period, it was not operating as strongly in 2001-2011 as during the 1990s in terms of both the career-progression premium gained by its in-migrants and the extent of its advantage over England’s second-order cities.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Champion T, Gordon I

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Population Space and Place

Year: 2021

Volume: 27

Issue: 7

Print publication date: 14/10/2021

Online publication date: 30/12/2019

Acceptance date: 10/12/2019

Date deposited: 17/02/2020

ISSN (print): 1544-8444

ISSN (electronic): 1544-8452

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd


DOI: 10.1002/psp.2306


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