Thursday 28 March 2013

Toddlers, teens and yoofs - where are they?

I've been doing some work on child poverty and social mobility recently, and part of this has involved looking at simple stats like the percentage of people in each area who are under 18. This has given me a better insight into which areas might be most affected by children's issues and policies. I've been looking across Great Britain but focusing on England and Wales and so I thought I'd just post a couple of maps showing the % of children across London Boroughs and the core cities - see below.

The results are quite striking - and particularly interesting I think are the differences between and within the core cities. What is also very interesting is the spatial divides in terms of which areas have a high concentration of children and which don't. These data overlap with many other datasets - which is partly what I'm looking at in my research right now - but this post is simply about the two maps.

One academic-related thought on this, though. I've been looking at the literature on neighbourhood effects over the past few years and following with interest the debate on where people 'choose' to live. This got me thinking about who might not get to choose, and children is one obvious group. As you can see from the maps there are large areas where 25% or more of the residents are children, and some areas where it is nearly 50%. Also interesting for me is the extent to which city centres in (e.g.) Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds are largely child-free - possibly linked to the concentration of students and new city centre living. Anyway, that's enough for now.

Technical note: this is done at the lower super output area level and for the local authority boundaries of the English core cities, plus all of Greater London. The data are from 2011 Census table KS102EW.

Friday 22 March 2013

The Highlands and London: lots of space vs. lots of people

I've been doing some work recently looking at local authority data from across the UK. One thing that always fascinates me about this is the differences between areas at a very basic level, such as the different sizes and populations of local authority and other sub-national areas. The two examples which always stand out in my mind are the Highland council area (because that's where I'm from) and Greater London (because it's so big and dynamic). The other reason the Highland council area stands out is because it is by far the biggest local authority in the UK. It's bigger than both Wales and Northern Ireland, yet it only has 232,000 people. London, on the other hand, would fit into the Highland council area about 20 times over yet it has 8.2 million people - as you can see from the map (click to enlarge - and see full screen here).

The map above shows Greater London and the Highland Council area mapped to the same scale, with London moved to the middle of the Highlands (not expecting this to become official Scottish Government policy any time soon, but you never know). Greater London is about 40 miles across but it is totally dwarfed by the Highlands. What is the relevance of all this? Well, it is interesting to think about this in the context of local government and the challenges they currently face.

Within Greater London you have 32 Boroughs plus the City of London all performing a variety of functions and in the whole of Scotland there are 32 Council Areas (which esteemed blogger Peter Matthews can list alphabetically off the top of his head). In the context of the ongoing fiscal crisis, there has been some talk of merging all local authorities in Scotland. I doubt it is going to happen but you never know. A Scotland on Sunday article on it from late 2012 seems to suggest there is some truth to the idea.