Segregation Preferences of Urban and Rural 16-year-olds in Northern Ireland

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Sectarian violence in the Northern Ireland is often perceived to be mostly confined to cities. The aim of this paper is to explore statistically what factors contribute to segregation preferences among young people living in rural and urban areas, using the 2005–2009 Young Life and Times (YLT) survey – an annual attitudes survey of 16-year-olds. The findings show that religious and national identities are the strongest predictors of segregation preferences among 16-year-olds, regardless of where they live and what background they have. Those living in rural areas of Northern Ireland are more supportive of residential, workplace and educational segregation than those living in more urban areas. This research highlights the need for government policy to take rurality into account. Nevertheless, some variables significantly determine segregation preferences regardless of where respondents live, such as attendance of segregated schools, being female, or strength of national and religious identity. Consequently, policy initiatives should continue to address the effect of segregation, especially in relation to education, and future research exploring social class and gender is recommended. In conclusion, the perception of the violent ‘urban spaces’ and the ‘peaceful countryside’ has to be challenged.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-297
Number of pages23
JournalIrish Political Studies
Issue number2
Early online date18 Oct 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • young people
  • segregation
  • Northern Ireland
  • rural


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