"White Flight" - Could this trend happen in Australia?

Hi folks,

I was doing some IP research on various areas around Aus. Anywho, the other day a good friend of mine moved back to Aus; having spent 3 years living in the UK. We caught up and he mentioned a trend called "White Flight" which I hadn't heard of. He remarked that it is occurring en-masse within the UK to other European countries (more on that in a bit).

But first, what is white flight? I'll share a wikipedia link below to a textbook definition, but really, the 21st century definition (in an IP-relevant way), can be summed up as pretty much being:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_flight


"Anglo/white people born and raised in what was once traditionally a mostly white/anglo country; finding themselves now living in urban areas that are highly multicultural/ethnically diverse. For whatever reasons; this community feels uncomfortable enough living there, to actively seek out and relocate to another area of the country - or another country entirely - where they feel more ethnically homogenous. I.e. to be with other 'white' people.


Pre 21st-century, the term was more attached to awful, racist, and inhumane policies by western countries to segregate people based on race/skin colour/cultural background.

I'm not talking about that definition today; I'm more talking about the 21st century 'trend' definition of 'white' people in their 'native' country (oh what a can of worms THAT notion could open up...) who are uncomfortable living where they are because they feel their culture/values are not present any more in this location; so they up and leave to find somewhere less multicultural to live; somewhere more like 'how it used to be in my current neighborhood'.

My friend explained it better with an example from the UK (where he mentioned it was occurring at significant scale). In his thoughts, basically racial tensions were quite high in many places in the UK, much higher than in most parts of Aus. He said that some 'white' UK citizens were seeking to flee the UK based on a general feeling that their culture has been suppressed and other cultures have dominated, and that they feel unsafe, rudely spoken to, and dejected, within their home suburb. Interestingly; a lot of them were moving to a completely different country and language in the pursuit of feeling more comfortable with the people around them?! That seems like a contradiction within itself, but he explained the general rationale or sentiment of the white flight-ers in moving to a different country, and it kinda makes sense...

Basically - and again none of this is my thoughts, I'm just repeating what was mentioned to me! - some people felt (And a lot of them more boomer/retirement age) more at home in rural Italy or southern France to live, instead of anywhere in the UK. They felt that people in these areas respected public property better, appreciated the local culture, spoke more politely and used manners, etc. And apparently, the Italians in particular love the UK arrivals who now reside in their country?! Why? Apparently the UK arrivals attempt to learn the local language, integrate more with society; respect the sometimes millenia-old buildings and architecture (some UK'ers were reported to even approach local Italian councils to get on the 'restoration and protection' boards and so on!?), and live quietly, peacefully, and integrate with the local community. So, the UK arrivals were not just arriving and creating 'Little England' suburbs that didn't integrate. The UK citizens also liked it because when they cashed out and sold up their boxy old properties in suburbs in England that they no longer felt comfortable living in; the revenue when exchanged into Euro and spent in rural France/Italy, bought them large farm and rural properties with very nice houses on them. So, they traded an unhappy life for a happier one, somewhere else.

In that sense, White Flight is the reverse immigration into Western countries by foreigners (I.e. foreigners doing the exact same thing; leaving a country where they are unhappy to live permanently in another country where they feel happier).

Basically, the Italians felt that the arriving UK citizens had great values and morals, and wanted people like this to join their communities. So, this notion of 'white flight' in a UK context apparently has created a great symbiotic relationship between the two countries.

This is a very touchy subject I know! And I will pull all this back into an IP context shortly (I promise!) just bare with me.

Now I'm not here to pass judgement or call people racist for having such views etc.; and the very notion of white flight opens a can of worms/debate in the public discourse as being viewed as being 'healthy' by some and 'unhealthy' by others. It is unhealthy because it creates racial tensions between groups of people in a country. Rather, I'm here to try and sieze IP buying opportunity in areas where demographers could be mapping such a phenomenon occurring as the baby boomers here in Aus start their retirement planning (will it be a capital city 'evacuation' by some baby boomers? Who knows).

You could argue that the white-flighters are racist and should learn to integrate better in their own country, with other sub-cultures. Or, you could argue they aren't racist, but rather that if things like crime/pollution/overcrowding/language barriers/ethnic & religious barriers etc. cause them to feel miserable where they are, then they should want to flee.

Touchy subject indeed.

Anyway, for whatever the reasons the trend seems to be increasing in several western countries I looked at (The UK, US, and Canada); and I wonder if this trend will emerge (or is already emerging?? Feel free to comment if you think it is!), in Australia too..

And, as a capitalistic property investor who always has his nose to the ground to sniff out the latest trends and think of possible IP buying strategies that result from the trend; I'd be interested to know what it could mean for Australia.

My friend suggested it worth keeping tabs on rural 'mostly white' coastal towns for IP purposes. If these pick-up in demand in the coming decade as a result of people fleeing more ethnically diverse areas, there could be gains to be had perhaps.

Controversial topic I know - but always a way to find opportunity from controversy, I'm sure!:D
 
White flight = Mix of equal parts racism, grass-is-greener mentality, and exaggerated sensationalism.

EDIT: So in summary, I doubt its a trend at all.
 
Sounds like all the people that said they were going to move overseas pending the result of the last federal election. Unfortunately they're all still here :(
 
Well possibly a bit more to it than that. The areas that people are supposedly moving from would always have been multicultural. Some of it will be hysteria whipped up by the tabloid press which loves headlines about how terrible everything is, how expensive everything is, and of course the seemingly uncontrollable migration from the EU of people who will have avoided all the usual tests that would be expected in an immigration process. There is some racism, but also people feeling the population is much too big now. Lots of stories about people feeling that their kids aren't learning as the teachers are busy trying to teach basic English to large numbers of migrant children now in the schools.

Also a big element of fantasy about escaping to the country/living in the sun. UK tv is full of it and it is pretty hypnotic.

With some of the horrific incidents of terrorism that have been happening with no end in sight I think some people are also genuinely worriedabout being attacked or blown up next time they get on a train or go to the shopping centre. No wonder I suppose they're dreaming of remote country villages and coastal towns where there are insufficient jobs to attract large populations.

Obviously this has pushed up prices in said areas, but so have investors and cashed up retirees so not sure if 'white flight' will influence the market on its own.
 
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I read something about groups of immigrants moving to other countries such as the UK due to the three W's

War (Escape it), Welfare (Embrace it in the new country) and Wife (Get one):confused:
 
I think that many or perhaps most people sympathise with those escaping war and cruelty. Possibly a lot of people have a problem with economic migration where the migrant passes through Spain or France or both to claim benefits in the UK which pays a much higher rate I understand. That in itself wouldn't be the end of the world but put it in the context of the government saying that they can no longer afford to pay pensions for everyone who has paid in, and the local population may feel a bit miffed.

In any case I think that's just one element of it. People have discovered they can sell up their house in grey and souless suburbia and have a very good life in Wales, Italy, France or even Hungary and try to get a life that they prefer for themselves and their kids. The UK weather sucks and I think this is the biggest push factor for most.
 
I think it's one of those things where it's easy to criticise those who do without ever having experienced it yourself.

We're lucky in Australia. We have lots of diversity, and few genuinely ghetto-like minority areas.
 
The term appears to have been imported from the US, where it tended to refer to demographic changes in neighbourhoods rather than countries.

Very often it was outmigration from inner-city neighbourhoods to (then new) suburbs, which were supported by interstate highway programs, easy home finance, mass motorisation and cheap petrol. Inner city areas were then decaying and jobs were often moving outwards, making them less desirable. School bussing in the '70s (kids being bussed to schools outside their neighbourhoods as a government program to aid equality) and the crack epidemic of the '80s further promoted suburbanisation amongst those who could afford to.

'Will I get bashed in the streets' or 'where are the best educational prospects for my children' might be the questions rather than overt racism but the result may be similar when contemplating a house move.

Bear in mind that the 'white flight' follows the great black migration to the northern cities as industry replced agriculture as the main employer of unskilled labour. This worked when Americans made appliances and cars but competition from overseas and free trade saw deindustrialisation and mass unemployment from the 1970s.

More recently some inner city areas (both here and in the US) have gentrified. The suburbs have lost their allure, some CBDs have redeveloped with revived employment, younger people are driving less and there is a (still minority) clamour for urban lifestyles.

The largest racial minorities (as they're called, though they're often now majorities in many cities) in the USA are associated with lower academic achievement and lower incomes than non-blacks/non-Hispanics.

The demographics are different here. The lowest average income or educational attainment group in the USA (blacks) is a much larger proportion of the population of most cities than the equivalent group here (Aborigines). We lack a direct equivalent to USA's Hispanic community. However we have a higher proportion of SE Asian migrants (often Chinese heritage) with strong academic attainment and average incomes.

Compared to the USA our neighbourhoods are less segregated and 'non-whiteness' is not associated with crime or academic underachievement like it may be in parts of America and Europe. Plus we have a long recent history of peaceably settling migrants and bias our selection towards skill and English language proficiency (with an allocation for humanitarian/refugees). The proportion of Australians who were either born overseas or had a parent born overseas is something like 50% - much more than many other countries - and there are quite high rates of intermarriage. We have also taken migrants from around the world, meaning that there is no other language that challenges English (like Spanish does in the USA).

Our suburbs can be divided into several types, with similarites between them more important than differences between states. One particular stratum could be described as 'outer suburban coastal'. Such a group includes certain distinctive demographic characteristics, eg:

a. higher than average percentage of older people
b. higher than average percentage of English migrants
c. lower than average percentage of SE Asian and Indian migrants
d. higher than average unemployment rate (especially amongst youth)
e. lower than average tertiary education participation & qualifications
f. higher than average propensity to vote Liberal or be a marginal seat despite fairly low incomes
g. little local manufacturing employment
h. often a holiday location before suburbanisation
i. lower than average school test scores
j. lower than average house prices (especially for a coastal location which attracts a premium in suburb nearer to the CBD)
k. at least 30km from a capital city CBD

Representative examples include Rockingham/Mandurah, NSW's central coast around Gosford and Frankston/Mornington Peninsula. The southern suburbs of Adelaide and the northern part of Brisbane may also be in this group.

It is possible that working class, often older white males may have moved to such areas, in some cases leaving non-coastal working class suburbs (or even cities eg the migration from NSW/Vic to SEQ). It may be possible to look at voting support for parties like One Nation or AAFI-backed independents in these areas - it might be higher than average.

There quite possibly may be a human tendency to group with like people and when one's suburb gets to a point where one can't read the shop signs there may be a desire to move if the opportunity comes. If you don't have a lot of money then a less diverse coastal community like the above might end up an affordable destination.
 
white bread

I think you're onto something and I don't think it's racist.

Let's acknowledge that immigration has enriched our country and our culture. We're way better off for it. What's more, most of the people who have moved to Australia have been top notch - either very wealthy and educated or smart and brave enough to do whatever it takes to make the move. Once they get here, they try very hard to make a new life in this country.
Let's also acknowledge that we've learnt that it's better to allow people to eat what they like, wear what suits them, speak their own languages at home, etc. Again, we benefit from this.
At the same time, the large cities have doubled and doubled again and will keep doing so. While the food is great, the traffic is ridiculous.
Now look to a "white bread" town. More space, better houses, lots of time.
What's missing?
Immigration hasn't arrived yet. It's on its way and when it gets here it'll improve the place.
I doubt that everyone who currently lives in Sydney and Melbourne will be able to afford to stay there. Life it too short.
Is it time for regionals again?
 
What's more, most of the people who have moved to Australia have been top notch - either very wealthy and educated or smart and brave enough to do whatever it takes to make the move. Once they get here, they try very hard to make a new life in this country.

tick

ta
rolf
 
Great insights everyone - thank you.

I agree with most here actually re: Australia; in that if people (of any cultural background, race, etc.) choose to move out of the big cities, it probably won't have anything to do with race/ethnicies.

What kind of Sydney-sider, Melburnian, or Brisbanite really has time to worry about things like that, when things like general cost of living, traffic, quality of life (due to slaving away long hours in a job to support said capital city lifestyle); are way more pressing and surely much more stressful for them.

Obviously safety is a priority first and foremost; but if safety is really that bad in a person's chosen capital city suburb, they would probably just move to a safer suburb within that same city, rather than up and leave to a rural town.

Tensions must be pretty bad in the UK (particularly London inner M25); if people are fleeing en-masse to completely different countries?!
 
Great insights everyone - thank you.

I agree with most here actually re: Australia; in that if people (of any cultural background, race, etc.) choose to move out of the big cities, it probably won't have anything to do with race/ethnicies.

What kind of Sydney-sider, Melburnian, or Brisbanite really has time to worry about things like that, when things like general cost of living, traffic, quality of life (due to slaving away long hours in a job to support said capital city lifestyle); are way more pressing and surely much more stressful for them.

Obviously safety is a priority first and foremost; but if safety is really that bad in a person's chosen capital city suburb, they would probably just move to a safer suburb within that same city, rather than up and leave to a rural town.

Tensions must be pretty bad in the UK (particularly London inner M25); if people are fleeing en-masse to completely different countries?!

I think you're dramatising a tad. Read my post and look at the numbers as a percentage of the (huge) population. If people are moving you'll find they have a range of reasons. Also NEWSFLASH people in the UK are generally the same as they are here, same likes, dislikes and aspirations.
 
We have had tenants who have left their home country - South Africa - because they were living lives that they didn't want to raise their kids in - lots of security needed, lots of violent home invasions, lots of anxiety etc.

That said, I have to say the general concept of 'white flight' is repugnant... I opened this thread with my eyes half closed, for fear of what I might read. I love living in the multicultural mixing pot that is Australia and to me one of the great things about being an Australian is the fact that most people will give most other people a 'fair go'.
 
We have had tenants who have left their home country - South Africa - because they were living lives that they didn't want to raise their kids in - lots of security needed, lots of violent home invasions, lots of anxiety etc.

That said, I have to say the general concept of 'white flight' is repugnant... I opened this thread with my eyes half closed, for fear of what I might read. I love living in the multicultural mixing pot that is Australia and to me one of the great things about being an Australian is the fact that most people will give most other people a 'fair go'.

Agree its a horrible label and doesn't capture the complexity. It's also not a 'white' only phenomenon. Plenty of people of all backgrounds and races move from their cities for similar reasons..but why let the facts get in the way of a good headline story? ; )
 
A 2011 story in the Daily Telegraph

Schools in west facing 'white flight'

PUBLIC schools across Sydney are experiencing a "white flight" of students.

Anglo-Australian parents are choosing to enrol their children in private schools over public because there are less children from migrant backgrounds, a new report by the University of Technology Sydney, based on data from the My School website, claims.

The western suburbs has the lowest number of Anglo-Australian students, accounting for as little as 2 per cent of enrolments in some schools.

Dr Christina Ho, a UTS researcher in multiculturalism, said public schools had become increasingly viewed as being "ghettoes" by many Anglo-Australian families.

"If you have a school that is 98 per cent or 97 per cent migrant-background kids, and hardly any background Anglo-Australians there, then that is a ghetto that doesn't reflect the diversity of the society we live in," Dr Ho said.

See Also below US study on changing demographics

Mapping 60 Years of White Flight, Brain Drain and American Migration

An interactive picture of Americans perpetually on the move

You can tell a lot about a place by who doesn't want to be there any more. Or, conversely, by who wants to move in.

A city that seeps population over time invariably has deeper problems driving its demographic change, like poor school districts that can't keep young families, or weak job prospects for its college grads. A county that attracts new residents, on the other hand -- maybe young people in particular, or retirees -- likely has the right amenities to lure them. Maybe a certain job sector. Or golf course communities.

In this way, we can divine some of the fortunes of different corners of the country simply by watching how Americans move around over the years. Each year, about 10 million Americans relocate to a new county. Map all those moves from one Census to another, across decades, and by race and age demographics, and you can see the Great Migration of blacks from the South, white flight to northern suburbs, the hollowing out of Rust Belt cities and the rise of the Sun Belt.
 
Like Clint Eastwood in "Gran Torino"?

Seriously though; my Parents-in-law live in Noble Park and have done so since the mid-60's.

I've been visiting there since I met my wife back in 1983.

All the "WASP" folk have slowly and steadily moved out (except my PIL) of that suburb.
 
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Like Clint Eastwood in "Gran Torino"?

Seriously though; my Parents-in-law live in Noble Park and have done so since the mid-60's.

I've been visiting there since I met my wife back in 1983.

All the "WASP" folk have slowly and steadily moved out (except my PIL) of that suburb.

doesnt sound like it, this is from 2011 ABS stats

"37.8% of people living in Noble Park were born in Australia. The other top responses for country of birth were India 8.5%, Vietnam 8.1%, Sri Lanka 5.3%, Cambodia 4.2%, Bosnia and Herzegovina 1.9%."

obviouly a very diverse suburb but aussie born still 38% of which youd expect WASP to be a significant %
 
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