Does Industrialization Affect Segregation? Evidence from Nineteenth-Century Cairo

Christophe Lévêque, and Mohamed Saleh


We investigate the impact of state industrialization on residential segregation between Muslims and non-Muslims in nineteenth-century Cairo using individual-level census samples from 1848 and1868. We measure local segregation by a simple inter-group isolation index, where Muslims' (non-Muslims') isolation is measured by the share of Muslim (non-Muslim) households in the local environment of each location. We find that relative to locations that did not witness changes in industrialization, the opening of Cairo railway station in 1856 differentially increased Muslims' isolation from non-Muslims (conversely, decreased non-Muslims' isolation) in its proximity and that the closures of textiles firms in 1848-1868 differentially decreased it. The results are arguably driven by a labor market mechanism, whereby state rms crowded in unskilled jobs that attracted greater net inows of rural immigrants and unskilled workers who were predominantly Muslims.


local segregation; industrialization; Middle East; railways; slums;

JEL codes

  • N35: Asia including Middle East
  • R23: Regional Migration • Regional Labor Markets • Population • Neighborhood Characteristics


Christophe Lévêque, and Mohamed Saleh, Does Industrialization Affect Segregation? Evidence from Nineteenth-Century Cairo, IAST working paper, n. 16-63, November 2016, revised May 2017.

Published in

Explorations in Economic History, vol. 67, January 2018, pp. 40–61