Suburban socio-spatial polarisation and house price change in Melbourne: 1986-1996Created by Margaret Reynolds & Maryann Wulff
This study examines the process and pattern of spatial polarisation in Melbourne Australia between 1986 and 1996. We construct a five-category polarisation typology based on the relative change in the bottom and top ends of local suburban household income distributions. The suburbs are classified as either: increasing advantage, increasing middle income, stable, polarising or increasing disadvantage. The research then examines the relationship between the suburb classification and house prices over the same period. The spatial units are 327 Melbourne suburbs. The two primary data sources include Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) household income figures and Victorian state government house sale price data for 1986 and 1996. The maps reveal a contiguous sector of increasing advantage in Melbourne’s inner and nearby eastern suburbs encircled by an adjacent middle suburban ring characterised by growing disadvantage. Spatially this picture of polarisation corresponds closely with the map showing median house price change between 1986 and 1996. The polarisation categories are closely related to real quartile house prices with the highest house price increases in suburbs of increasing advantage and the lowest gains (or declines) in suburbs increasing in disadvantage.