How much can society change in 10 years?
Exploring change over time using geodemographic data.
The census takes place every 10 years within the UK and provides a powerful tool for national trend analysis. It offers several major advantages as a data tool as it is compulsory, so every UK resident is legally obliged to answer, whilst the range of questions it puts forward are very comprehensive. We are very fortunate to have such a data source, as not every country conducts similar national surveys – a limitation guaranteed to frustrate anyone looking at global social analysis. (We have a separate blog on the census if you’d like to learn more.) The census is central to our own geodemographic profiling data, P² People & Places, allowing us to take full advantage of the data collected by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
Despite the depth of questioning, the census alone lacks the depth of economic data to give a well-rounded picture of consumers. As such it is important to supplement this data in order to add further depth. To do this, we use data from the Living Costs and Food Survey (LCF) and British Population Survey (BPS) to paint better pictures of each demographic group. The result is a set of geodemographic data that gives us a good overview of major demographic groupings and trends across the UK. The next census isn’t due to take place until 2021 and it will take some time after that until the findings and data are processed and released, so we thought it was a good time to take stock of some of the changes and trends we noticed between the 2001 and the 2011 census. What difference does 10 years make to our society and the people that live within it?
Not everything has changed
In the 10 years between each census, the detail and data discrimination in our profiling tools has increased greatly, but general social trends remain clear.
- Top level demographic groups tend to live in owned detached houses. They have multiple cars and drive to professional and managerial posts. These people tend to read broadsheet newspapers and shop in Sainsbury’s or Marks and Spencer.
- The average person lives in a semi-detached house, commuting by car to white collar work in the service industry. These people will read Black Top tabloids and shop in Tesco.
- Bottom level groups live in rented flats. They do not have a car and are probably pensioners. If they are working, it will be blue collar manual work. These people read Red Top tabloids and shop in Asda or Lidl.
Some of us are getting richer
The average annual income was £25,000 in 2001. By 2011 this had risen to £32,000. People are earning more. Income increasing over a 10 year period is hardly surprising. The distribution of that income has changed dramatically.
In 2001 the richest demographic groups were just under twice as likely to have an income higher than the average. The poorest groups were half as likely to receive the average income. By 2011 the richest households were much more than twice as likely to earn above the average income. Poorer households were still only half as likely to earn the average.
The range of incomes also widened. Some lower income households were earning less than a third of the average wage while the upper echelons could receive over three times the average.
Back in 2001, the world was young with the more affluent groups averaging 35 years of age with average numbers of children. Meanwhile the least affluent groups were more likely to be over 65 with low numbers of children. This has shown a natural progression with the average for each group ageing 10 years by 2011.
Social mobility – towards the middle
In 2001, the four largest groups made up around 50% of the population and reflected the more traditional class stereotypes. By 2011 60% of the population fell into the four middle class groupings of our profiling data. So in the course of just 10 years we have seen a growth of the middle class whilst both high-earning and low-earning groups have become more extreme in their affluence or lack thereof.
What will the next census show?
The real question is, with 3 years until the next census, and probably a further year or two until the data is processed and released, what changes can we expect? So much has changed in the last 10 years, it is difficult to predict with any certainty. Certainly the way we describe each social group will have to change:
- Classifying people by the newspapers they read seems anachronistic with the decline in the readership of print publications.
- Environmental concerns and the impact of technology such as ride hailing apps are starting to impact car ownership outside of the usual location and affluence influencers.
- Shoppers are no longer limited by their local store, with home delivery becoming so prevalent.
The census itself will also change; The Office of National Statistics put great effort into the design of each census to ensure that a core of consistent questions remain as points of comparison, whilst new questions are introduced to allow for changes in society and the participant’s way of life.
More fundamentally, technology is allowing new working patterns to emerge that will challenge old profiles; for example home working and digital microbusiness mean that location is a smaller influence on working pattern, whilst a young family needn’t impact household income as much as it once did. It will be fascinating to see the impact that these changes have made to our societal make-up.
Our other blogs
What has the census ever done for us?
How Census 2011 can be used to help organisations with demographic analysis.
All you need to know about postcodes but were afraid to ask
The humble postcode has been around for years. We look at how postcodes are used and what led to their introduction.
Who spends most on Fruit and Veg
National Vegetarian Week (#NationalVegetarianWeek) this year runs from 11th to 17th May. What better opportunity to highlight how GIS mapping can be used to create marketing campaigns and raise awareness of the benefits of eating more fruit and veg.
Google Fusion Tables
After almost 10 years of service, Google retired their Fusion Tables product at the end of 2019. This tool was very useful at visualising and sharing large amounts of tabular data - particularly amongst small and mid-sized businesses. So what can we do to fill the gap left by this tool?
As a Yorkshire-based company, we wanted to help celebrate Yorkshire Day, which takes place on 1st August. Naturally, we wanted to put a geographic spin on the celebration, so we took a look at drinking preferences within God’s own county.
Meet the team: Toby
Toby, our Sales Executive, gives a retrospective of his time teaching, and learning about Beacon Dodsworth's GIS solutions.
Mapping GP prescription data
An article by Allan Brimicombe (Head of Centre for Geo-Information Studies at the University of East London) & Pat Mungroo on using GP prescription data to understand health needs.
Cycle to work day
Each year for #cycletoworkday we take a look at cycling statistics across the country and try to map that data and find interesting trends. This is mainly because we at Beacon Dodsworth are either a little bit obsessed about cycling, or we tend to worry about the environment.
Administrative geography is a way of dividing the country into smaller sub-divisions or areas that correspond with the area of responsibility of local authorities and government bodies. It provides an alternative to postcode geography but because it tends not to be used by consumers, it is often overlooked. We take a look at administrative geography, what it is and how to use it.
Mapping for local projects
Recently, we were contacted by a company responsible for organising charity door knockers. They needed more than 9,000 postcode sectors mapped at A4 size to pass to ground staff showing street level detail. This would enable them to use maps at a local level to plan fundraising routes and clearly define territories for each agent.
The foundations of geographical analysis
Displaying data on maps makes it easier to understand as well as giving a new perspective on a problem. Using a GIS to prepare and present data has become increasingly popular over the last 20 years, but graphical displays of data on maps were around long before computers came along.
Social change over 10 years
The next census isn’t due to take place until 2021 so we thought it was a good time to take stock of some of the changes and trends we noticed between the 2001 and the 2011 census. What difference does 10 years make to our society and the people that live within it?
What is geodemographic profiling?
More than 64 million people live in the UK, each with their own outlook, priorities, needs and way of life. Geodemographic profiling offers a way to group these individuals to try and identify the right audience for your product or service.
How to back up your Prospex data
Keep your GIS projects safe by using the in-built Prospex back up process. Here is how.
Using geographic intelligence to grow the UK’s broadband network
Using geographic intelligence to sustainably grow the UK’s broadband network.
The power of postcode sectors
Postcode sectors are aggregations of individual postcodes and they provide meaningful geographical reporting areas in any GIS. However, they aren't as easy to map as you might think. Here is how we do it.
Living Costs and Food Survey
The Living Costs and Food survey (LCF) is compiled every year and is used by the UK and European governments, Department for Transport (DfT), and Her Majesty’s Revenue and the Customs (HMRC). But what is it, and why should we care?
How far is it to the beach
Using Beacon Dodsworth's scripting technology to showcase demographic and geographic trends.
Where is the North
We've used the territory manager tool in Prospex GIS to split the UK into north, south and east and west with equal population counts.
What is GIS software?
A Geographical Information System (GIS), is a tool for analysing, visualising, managing and presenting data that is related to a physical, geographical location. That link to geography is the key difference between GIS and other data visualisation techniques.
Geodemographics and the University of East London
The University of East London explain how they have been using our P² People & Places geodemographic classification.
Postcode to postcode drive time and distance
What happens if we want a postcode to postcode drive time lookup table?
Your continued use of this site is taken as implied consent to receive cookies from us and our analytics partners.