The Political Origins of Slum Growth and Segregation in Cities: Evidence from Urban Brazil

24 July 2023, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


Why are some cities more segregated along class or racial lines than others? In this paper, I explore causes of segregation across cities in Brazil. I first argue that both neoliberal economic reforms (1990s) and the era of social housing (2000s) were federal initiatives that had segregative effects. However, the partisan ideologies of local mayoral coalitions distort how federal policies impact the development of cities. Depending on how the timing of federal policies (i.e., critical junctures) coincided with mayoral coalitions that happen to be in power, cities became more or less segregated. I test the argument using a close-elections RDD and a panel survey of municipal governments. I find that social housing increased segregation overall, and this effect is magnified in cities governed by leftist coalitions. In contrast, during the neoliberal era, the effects of mayoral coalitions flips: Left-wing cities reduced segregation, while centrist and right-wing ones became more segregated.


urban politics
political geography
urban informality
social policy
housing policy
coalitional politics
critical junctures
spatial politics


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