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Conference paper
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According to Sassen (1991) some cities are becoming post-industrial production sites because of comparative advantages in terms of efficiency of their infrastructure, the international connectedness of their city economies, the presence of a workforce with expertise in knowledge-intensive activities and an agglomeration of ‘new economy’ firms. The global city literature postulates that economic restructuring and integration within global cities is accompanied by increasing polarisation. This paper examines and compares economic restructuring trends in three Australian cities – Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide – and asks whether the global city concept is useful in helping us understand the impact of economic restructuring on local housing and labour markets. We find that both Sydney and Melbourne display characteristics associated with global cities, but that these characteristics are more muted in Adelaide. We also find evidence of increasing income segregation in Sydney and Melbourne. This effect is not as apparent in Adelaide. Indeed average taxable income in Adelaide’s poorer communities is improving relative to poorer communities in Sydney and Melbourne. We explore residential sorting and wage inequality explanations of these different geographical patters in income inequality.

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