Project Details

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

The research is exploring how the population of the UK is, or has been, geographically distributed. The project brings a new and important perspective to debates about divisions, inequalities and the ways in which people in the UK live together or apart. It is addressing 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, the project team is generating 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 is producing 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, 1km by 1km grid cells); these can be directly compared between Censuses. So, once these population surfaces are available it is possible to consider how localities have changed and in what ways. This population surface resource is being made freely available so that users can explore these changes for themselves and also consider in more depth the results produced as outputs from this project.