The article reviews 11 primary studies that examine the impact of social mix on public housing estates. In a growing number of countries policy-makers view social mix as the key mechanism to address the problems often associated with disadvantaged public housing estates – unemployment, anti-social behaviour, poor educational performance and high levels of crime. It is argued that by dissipating the concentration of poverty and exposing public housing tenants to more mainstream residents, the opportunities of the public housing tenants will improve. Most of the studies found that there is little evidence that social mix will necessarily lead to a lessening of disadvantage among public housing tenants.
However, social mix usually leads to an improvement of the urban fabric and housing stock, which in turn improves the atmosphere of the areas concerned. In neighbourhoods where social mix has evolved ‘organically’ over time, social mix is more likely to be a positive phenomenon. In areas where it has been introduced through deliberate government intervention, unless there is adequate consultation with tenants and high quality urban planning, social mix usually has minimal impact and can severely disrupt the lives of residents. The reviewed studies use a range of methodologies and outcome measures. There is no consensus on how social mix should be evaluated or what methodology should be employed.