Understanding urban gentrification through Machine Learning: Predicting neighbourhood change in London

Jon Reades, Jordan De Souza, Philip Hubbard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)
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Recent developments in the field of machine learning offer new ways of modelling complex socio-spatial processes, allowing us to make predictions about how and where they might manifest in the future. Drawing on earlier empirical and theoretical attempts to understand gentrification and urban change, this paper shows it is possible to analyse existing patterns and processes of neighbourhood change to identify areas likely to experience change in the future. This is evidenced through an analysis of socio-economic transition in London neighbourhoods (based on 2001 and 2011 Census variables) which is used to predict those areas most likely to demonstrate ‘uplift’ or ‘decline’ by 2021. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of such modelling for the understanding of gentrification processes, noting that if qualitative work on gentrification and neighbourhood change is to offer more than a rigorous post-mortem then intensive, qualitative case studies must be confronted with—and complemented by—predictions stemming from other, more extensive approaches. As a demonstration of the capabilities of Machine Learning, this paper underlines the continuing value of quantitative approaches in understanding complex urban processes such as gentrification.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)922-942
Issue number5
Early online date25 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • London
  • Neighbourhood Change
  • Gentrification
  • Random Forests
  • Machine Learning
  • Geographic Data Science
  • Quantitative Geography


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