Population Change and Geographic Inequalities in the UK, 1971-2011

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Geography and Planning

Abstract

The research will explore how the population of the UK is, or has been, geographically distributed. The project will bring a new and important perspective to debates about divisions, inequalities and the ways in which people in the UK live together or apart. It will address questions such as: are health inequalities between places greater now than in the past? What makes localities different - are they geographically distinguished more by housing tenure or health than they are by employment status or ethnicity? What areas have the greatest diversity of people and how has this changed between 1971 and 2011? To answer these questions, we will generate population surfaces from publicly available Census data for 1971, 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2011 to enable direct comparisons between Censuses. Counts of people in a variety of population sub-groups (e.g., by qualifications, age, etc) have been released from each Census for sets of small geographical areas (such as enumeration districts or output areas). This allows the mapping and analysis of geographical patterning in population groups across the UK for each Census. However, these small areas differ in size and shape between Censuses, so the 1971 small area boundaries, for example, are very different to those for 2011. This project will produce population surfaces for each Census year as a means of overcoming this problem. Population surfaces are estimates of counts of people for regular grids (with population estimates over, for example, 100m by 100m grid cells); these can be directly compared between Censuses. So, once these population surfaces are available we will be able to consider how localities have changed and in what ways. This new population surface resource will be made freely available so that users can explore these changes for themselves and also consider in more depth the results we produce. We will use this resource to provide the first systematic review of how the population of the UK has changed over the last 40 years. It will show how population groups in the UK are geographically distributed and it will assess, in detail, how far different localities (for example, within central Scotland) or regions (for example, south east England or north west England) are becoming more similar or more different to one another in terms of their population characteristics. The project will also consider how the relationships between population groups have changed across time. For example, with a consistent geography, it will be possible to assess which small area localities have very high rates of unemployment together with large proportions of social rented households, and how the characteristics of these localities changed between 1971 and 2011. We will also be able to identify which population characteristics most strongly distinguish particular areas. As an example, the population in some localities in north west England may be very similar in terms of levels of poor health, unemployment and housing tenure, but differ in terms of the number of single person households or the average number of dependent children. The project will explore these differences in detail and, for the first time, construct a detailed profile of the geographical distribution of individual population groups and the multiple characteristics of areas in combination. The population surface resource will be invaluable to any users interested in the population geography of the UK, while the results of our analysis of population distributions will enrich our understanding of the ways in which the population of the UK has changed over the last 40 years.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from this research?

The project will make available a major resource to all users concerned with the population of the UK. Such users include the private and public sectors, academics, and members of the general public. The capacity to explore, through the provision of population surfaces for 1971-2011, local population changes across the UK, will be of direct benefit to commercial private sector organisations, policy makers, local and national government, charities and the wider public. The uses of the resource might include, for example, assessment of the impacts of policy on local-level deprivation, targeting of resources to people in local areas with long-term poor health, or simply members of the public wishing to know how their own neighbourhood has changed over the last 40 years. The analysis of population sub-group geographical distributions will provide a rich suite of results to all users who wish to know about the ways in which the population geography of the UK has changed since 1971.

How will they benefit from this research?

In allowing for local-level analyses, the population surfaces resource will facilitate detailed analyses of geographical inequalities and of the ways in which the population lives together or apart. Through innovative locally-based analyses of population change, it would be possible to increase the effectiveness of public services and policy by targeting, for example, areas of long-term deprivation, with a consequent impact on quality of life. Through the research results from this project, users from across the public and private sectors will gain an enhanced understanding of the geographical characteristics of population sub-groups in the UK, and how these characteristics have changed over the last 40 years. The combination of the population surface resource developed as a project output, along with the results from the analysis of population distributions, will provide a systematic and nuanced approach to understanding how local areas have changed in multiple complex ways, the particular problems areas face, and the allocation of resources to help alleviate these inequalities. These benefits could begin to be realised in the short term (within the project duration) and we will endeavour to make the resource and analysis results widely available through, for example, dissemination via local government networks. The impacts of the project will be geographically extensive, encompasing as it does the whole of the UK, and will reach users in a variety of sectors.

The research and professional skills developed by staff working on the project would be very widely applicable across diverse employment sectors associated with all possible user groups for the outputs from this project.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The project has developed a new resource which enables users to map population change over small areas of Britain between 1971 and 2011. Users can visit the PopChange website and map differences in, for example, unemployment, house ownership or country or birth for 1km squares across Britain between any Census years from 1971 onwards (1971, 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2011). This is the first resource to allow for exploration of population change over small areas of Britain for a 40 year period. It was promoted via a seminar with the project partner (the Office for National Statistics), a workshop, and specialist mailing lists, and these have shown there to be a wide user base. The resource is already being used by researchers in local government and in academia. The project team is actively developing new collaborations which will apply the population grids.

The construction of the population grids required development of new approaches for combining existing Census data for small areas (which differ between Censuses), and additional information including postcodes and landuse types. Approaches were tested using population grid data available for Northern Ireland; this allowed assessment of the likely accuracy of the grids generated for Britain. The selected approaches can be used by other researchers who wish to compare population data available for incomparable geographical areas.

Analysis of the grid data produced is revealing the complex ways in which the population geography of Britain has changed over the last 40 years. In the first case study, changes in social deprivation were examined and the analyses have showed how deprivation has become more concentrated in urban areas, as well as identifying other areas with high and persistent deprivation. In addition, the analyses have highlighted how spatial inequalities (differences between neighbourhoods) in unemployment grew between 1971 and 1981, but have stayed relatively constant since. The impact of the 'right to buy' scheme has been shown by a decrease in 'unevenness' between small areas in terms of owner occupied and rented households - in short, the housing tenures in small areas became more mixed between 1971 and 2001, with little change between 2001 and 2011.

Training in the use of the resource has been provided via a practical exercise available on the project website and a dedicated workshop run at the end of the project. The exercise allows non-expert users to work with the population grids via the project web resource and by downloading the grids and using free geographical information systems (GIS) software.

Ongoing research is enhancing our understanding of population and housing change in Britain. Recent research has charted the decline of social rented housing in England and the growth of overcrowding in London and the south east of England.
Exploitation Route The potential range of uses of the PopChange resource are considerable. Any organisations or individuals interested in population change in Britain since 1971 will find the resource of value. Researchers and policy makers in national and local government, and NGOs and charities concerned with population change, poverty and deprivation, will find the resource invaluable for assessing long-term population trends over small areas and for assessing the impact of previous policies, as well as providing vital context for new policies. The resource covers multiple variables including age, health, employment, housing tenure, overcrowding, vehicle access, country of birth and ethnicity as well as composite measures of deprivation. Thus, it enables analysis of local changes in: population sub-groups, spatial inequalities, and the relationships between variables such as health and long-term social deprivation. Analyses of environment-population interactions are also possible using this new resource given that many environmental datasets are available in a gridded format. Research conducted using this resource is increasing our understanding of changes in multiple population characteristics and, as well as multiple users of the resource, the team anticipates that our own research findings will inspire new programmes of research as well as playing a major role in shaping policy locally and nationally within Britain.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Environment,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice,Retail,Transport

URL https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/geography-and-planning/research/popchange/introduction/
 
Description The PopChange web resource is being widely used by researchers in local government (over 50 representatives have registered), in NGOs and elsewhere. The resource has been used by individuals in the Office for National Statistics and National Records of Scotland as means of illustrating the benefits of gridded population resources as a part of discussions around future provision of gridded population datasets by UK national statistical agencies. The team continues to build connections with central government and other bodies. Press releases on some headline findings resulted in extensive coverage in local and national media (e.g., The Sunday Times, INewspaper, The Scotsman, BBC Radio Leicester, BBC Radio Scotland). The team is developing several major outputs (academic, policy focused and public-facing) on population change in the UK which will be released in 2019 and 2020. the PI is now based in Queen's University Belfast and a new web-based resource will be hosted by QUB's Centre for GIS and Geomatics.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Environment,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Other
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Office for National Statistics 
Organisation Office for National Statistics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution PI Lloyd has given a seminar on the PopChange project at the Office for National Statistics. He has also provided input to an ongoing initiative which is considering the possibility of developing population grids for the UK.
Collaborator Contribution The Office for National Statistics have provided expert guidance on data and they continue to support the project. The have also supported the project via attendance at both of the project workshops.
Impact The project has been shaped in consultation with the ONS and all outputs are informed by this collaboration.
Start Year 2015
 
Title PopChange interactive mapping resource and data 
Description Using a wide range of variables extracted from the UK Censuses of 1971, 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2011, the website enables users to explore change in the population over small areas of Britain from 1971 to 2011. The data were converted to 1km grids which are consistent across all census years. Available variables include age, ethnicity, health, tenure, and deprivation, amongst others. Using this resource users can answer questions such as 'which neighbourhoods have seen the largest population declines over the last 40 years?', 'which areas have seen the greatest increases in diversity of people born outside of the UK?' or 'where have social deprivation levels remained persistently high?'. The resource also enables the download of the data so users can conduct analyses with their own software. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact Currently representatives of over 50 local authorities have registered to use the resource, and it is being used widely to assess local-level population changes. In addition, multiple academics, teachers, and members of the general public have signed up to the resource. 
URL https://popchange.liverpool.ac.uk/
 
Description British Society for Population Studies Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The presentation (entitled 'Geographical Inequalities and Population Change in Britain, 1971-2011') promoted discussion about the analysis of population change over small areas and led to plans for future collaborative research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description ESRC Showcase of the Secondary Data Analysis Initiative (SDAI) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The event involved individuals from academia, national and local government departments and agencies, and charities. It promoted the ESRC's Secondary Data Analysis Initiative and, as a holder of an SDAI grant, I was invited to facilitate a discussion around the theme of identify and equality. This provided an opportunity to present work from the project as a means of prompting debate about how SDAI projects can be better used to address issues of policy. The event also provided an opportunity to promote the ESRC Consumer Data Research Centre.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description End of project workshop launching the PopChange web resource 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The PopChange interactive mapping project resource was introduced at a workshop at the University of Liverpool on Thursday 14th July. The event comprised two parts: (i) an outline of the contents of the resource and (ii) a structured introduction to the online resource and its use, followed by a guided exercise which will run through download of selected grid data for a local authority of choice followed by some basis analyses using the QGIS software package. The event was attended by individuals from academia, national and local government and NGOs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/geography-and-planning/research/popchange/introduction/
 
Description Open Data Institute Seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Nick Bearman gave a seminar on the PopChange project on 18th November 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description PopChange workshop in London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The PopChange project, recent research, and the web resource was introduced at a workshop at the University of Liverpool's London Campus on Monday 13th February. The event included an introduction to the project, discussion around research opportunities, and two practical sessions introducing the web resource. The event was attended by individuals from academia, national and local government and NGOs. The PI's project on inequalities in South Africa was also used as an example.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.clearmapping.co.uk/our-blog/item/473-popchange-workshop-at-university-of-liverpool-london...
 
Description Presentation (1/3) at the 8th International Conference on Population Geographies, Brisbane, Australia, 30 June-3 July 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The talk (by PI Lloyd') was titled 'Geographical Inequalities and Population Change in Britain, 1971-2011'. Questions were raised about the economic context for deprivation in each study year, the measurement of change between censuses and alternative measures of area deprivation.

The talk prompted a lot of interesting discussion including on the subject of alternative approaches to exploring change in social deprivation over small areas.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://absoluteevents.eventsair.com/QuickEventWebsitePortal/icpg-2015/icpg2015
 
Description Presentation (2/3) at the 8th International Conference on Population Geographies, Brisbane, Australia, 30 June-3 July 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The talk (by CI Catney) was titled 'Exploring the Association Between Ethnic Concentration and Neighbourhood Deprivation in Britain: A Study of Small Areas Over Four Decades'. Questions were asked relating to diversity and policy in rural areas, and the positive message of dispersal from immigrant settlement areas.

The talk promoted positive discussion about the possibilties for exploring long term changes in the geographies of ethnicity and country of birth.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://absoluteevents.eventsair.com/QuickEventWebsitePortal/icpg-2015/icpg2015
 
Description Presentation (3/3) at the 8th International Conference on Population Geographies, Brisbane, Australia, 30 June-3 July 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The presentation (by PI Lloyd) was titled 'Creating Population Surfaces for the Analysis of Small Area Change', audience discussion suggested that the approach was seen as novel and worthy of application in othe national contexts. Discussion followed on use on ancillary data (e.g., postcodes and landuse) to inform population surface generation and population projections.

There was interest expressed in using elements of the approaches outlined for population projections.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://absoluteevents.eventsair.com/QuickEventWebsitePortal/icpg-2015/icpg2015
 
Description Press release leading to coverage in local and national media 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact A press release on population change in Britain led to articles in the Sunday Times (5th November 2017) and the INewspaper (31st October 2017), as well as a live interview on BBC Radio Leicester (plus syndicated to other local BBC Radio stations). The research was also mentioned on the BBC Breakfast show (BBC 1) (11th November 2017). In addition, the research was reported in the online versions of multiple other national and local newspapers including indy100 from The Independent (6th November 2017), The Evening Standard (7th November 2017), The Sun (7th November 2017), and The Mirror (8th November 2017).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/north-south-divide-edges-down-the-map-f32wpqd5d
 
Description Press release on deprivation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Press release on deprivation in Britain lead to widespread coverage in local and national media. This included newspapers (e.g., I Newspaper, The Daily record, The Scotsman, Scottish Daily Mail, and many others) and also a live interview on BBC Radio Scotland.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Press release on housing tenure 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact A press release was followed by social media coverage and reports on news sites. However, coverage was limited compared to the two previous press releases (on population change and deprivation change).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) Annual International Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Following the presentation (entitled 'Geographical Inequalities, Spatial Scale and Small Area Statistics for England and Wales'), there was discussion about how our methods could be used to explore population change in areas where no geographically-detailed population data are available.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://conference.rgs.org/AC2015
 
Description Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) Annual International Conference 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The paper focused on the future of GeoComputation and alternative data sources for understanding population change. This included discussion of the PopChange project and research on spatial and social inequalities in South Africa. As a result of the paper, interest was expressed in expanding the research to other national contexts, and to the Czech Republic in particular.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/
 
Description Talk at the launch of the University of Liverpool Centre for Spatial Demographics Research, 11-12 June 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The talk introduced the project (ES/L014769/1). Discussion followed on related research and on the nature of outputs which the project will generate.

The talk promoted both the project and the new 'Centre for Spatial Demographics Research' of which PI Lloyd is director. The launch event, of which the talk was part, highlighted the dynamic programme of research taking place in Liverpool. Following the talk, discussions with colleagues from other institutions led to plans for collaborative research making use of the population grids which are being derived as an output from the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006,2015
URL https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/spatial-demographics/symposium/
 
Description UK Grids workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact PI Lloyd presented a summary of the PopChange project as part of a workshop on the future of population grids in the UK in London on 3rd February 2017. The workshop was run by the Office for National Statistics and was attended by individuals from the ONS, National Records of Scotland, Central Statistics Office (Ireland) and other central government bodies. PI Lloyd was the sole academic representative at the event. The PI's project on inequalities in South Africa was also used as an example.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017