From Financialization to Sociospatial Polarization of the City? Evidence from Canada



Financialization is a key attribute of globalized neoliberal capitalism. Among other things, it is associated with rising household indebtedness, which has certainly been true in Canada. Another widely recognized trait of neoliberal capitalism is growing social inequality and polarization. However, despite growing awareness and understanding of the relationships between debt and inequality at the household, national, and international scales, it remains unclear what role household debt may have in fashioning patterns of income segregation within the metropolis and how it may be related to processes of urban economic restructuring. This article seeks to fill this gap through an empirical analysis of the spatial distribution of household debt and its relationship to prevailing patterns of neighborhood income inequality within Canadian metropolitan areas. The effects of household debt in either ameliorating or exacerbating prevailing levels of income segregation are analyzed, after which the metropolitan-level factors that are associated with regressive neighborhood distributions of debt are examined. The implications of the results for understanding the relationship between financialization and predominant patterns of urban economic restructuring are then discussed.