Thursday 31 May 2012

Unemployment in Europe (via Google)

Despite recent headlines about data capture, Google remains an excellent source of (or gateway to) information on socio-demographic data. For example, if you type in 'population' followed by a country name, such as 'mexico' then this is what you'll get...

If you do this with any country you'll get the latest results plus a little graph which you can then click on and explore further. Similarly, if you type in 'eu unemployment' you will see a little chart showing EU unemployment - currently 10.2% for March 2012 - and how it has changed over time. If you click on the small chart you'll then see data for Europe and be able to add in data for other EU nations by clicking the boxes to the left. You can even embed this in a web page, as you can see below...

Apart from being convenient and accurate, this is also a very useful analytical tool when you need quick comparisons, like in the example below where I've compared Spain, the EU, Germany and Austria. As you can see the time-series data does not always extend as far back as we'd like but it is a great way to get your head round what is happening in different places without much effort at all. You'll notice in the embedded graphs that if you hover over a line it should tell you the data value for that point.

I've now changed the criteria in the chart so that it only includes unemployment for those aged less than 25 - and I've added in the UK too. This makes pretty grim reading for the EU, and Spain in particular...

This method also works for lots of other kinds of data. For example, if you type in 'us gdp' you'll see the data for the US but also have the option to add in lots of other comparators. One of the most interesting comparisons is looking at GDP over time, as you can see below.

I'm going to a conference in China at the end of June, hence my interest in national comparisons. This kind of thing has of course been covered extensively by Hans Rosling, but not many people know that it is fully integrated into Google's basic functionality.

Monday 21 May 2012

Bikes in Delft

Not a lot of data analysis or research been done on my part recently. That's because I've been on the road a bit, including attending the Regional Studies Association international conference in Delft. While I was in Delft I was not only amazed by the sheer volume of bikes but also by the way in which bikes are given their own space. I knew about this in advance but it was quite amazing to see it in action, as the short video shows. The video, by the way, was taken on my phone on a slightly windy day at the lovely TU Delft campus.

The number of bikes at Delft station was also staggering, though you can't really even begin to get the scale of it from the picture below...

While I was in Delft I gave a paper on housing market search, based on some Rightmove data. It seemed to go down quite well so hopefully during the summer I'll have time to finish the work and submit it for publication...

How did I manage to do a post without a map? I'm sure I'll rectify this next time.

Tuesday 8 May 2012

The Population of the United Kingdom

Partly inspired by a global analysis of population by latitude and longitude and partly intrigued by the latest population estimates for small areas, I've been looking at the population of the United Kingdom in more detail recently. According to the latest small area estimates (for mid-2010) the total population of the country is 62.3 million. The 2011 Census results are not out yet (release schedule here) but this figure should be pretty close to the actual number from the Census. I've been looking at where people live according to different north/south cut-offs. The series of maps below looks at (roughly) how many people live south of a) the River Thames, b) Birmingham, c) Manchester, d) Newcastle and e) Edinburgh... [click an image to see it full screen]

About a quarter live south of Thames

About half live south of Birmingham

About two thirds live south of Manchester

Nine out of ten live south of Newcastle

Over 93% live south of Edinburgh

This is not all that mind-blowing really but I was quite surprised that for the UK about half the population live south of Birmingham. The cut-off lines are slightly fuzzy because the data are based on super output areas and data zones (and local authorities for cities) but the figures are pretty accurate. 

In terms of distribution within the United Kingdom (as it still is for the time being!), 83.9% live in England, 8.4% in Scotland, 4.8% in Wales and 2.9% in Northern Ireland. There are ten times as many people in England as there are in Scotland. Or, to look at it another way, you could easily fit the population of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland south of London (though I'm sure they might complain).

On a more serious data-related point, I'm still baffled as to why, for example, the US and China can get some early Census results out so quickly whereas we have to wait until July 2012 for the first releases. It will be interesting to see what the final figures are.