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 for 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. Although the 2021 census has just been taken, it will take some time until the data is 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 have 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 at least 2 years until the data from the 2021 Census is 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. This is likely to be even more noticeable with a census taking place during a global pandemic.
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
British Population Survey (BPS)
The British Population Survey (BPS) is a survey of household income and shopping habits collected by face-to-face interviews. We take a look at the BPS in detail, what exactly it is made from and how its data can be usefully applied by businesses and public organisations.
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.
The census helps you to understand your customers
The UK Census 2021: what it is, how is it made, and how can it be used to help your organisation with demographic analysis.
Using geographic intelligence to grow the UK’s broadband network
Using geographic intelligence to sustainably grow the UK’s broadband network.
Mapping efficient sales territories
We've worked with mapping, demographic, and travel data for a long time, and have become specialists in territory mapping. So we'd like to share a few tips on how best to define sales catchments for your team, or embark on territory review.
TimeTravel: the latest update
We look at the latest update to TimeTravel, our dataset of drive times and distances between any postcode sector or district. What has changed in the UK road and geographic network, plus new features to make it even more accurate.
How to create a postcode map
Turning a list or spreadsheet of postcode data into a series of points on a map isn't as simple as using an Excel wizard to do it for you, but it isn't rocket science. We look at the best way to create a postcode point/pin map.
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?
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.
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 use at a local level to plan fundraising routes and clearly define territories for each agent.
Social change over 10 years
With the next census due to take place this year, 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?
Beacon Dodsworth New Office
Now we are back in the office, we continue to support hybrid working. So, we’ve taken the opportunity to downsize our office to make us more resilient to future lockdowns, staff self-isolation, and any other uncertainty the modern world might throw our way.
Postcode to postcode drive time and distance
What happens if we want a postcode to postcode drive time lookup table?
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. We take a look at administrative geography, what it is and how to use it.
Who spends most on Fruit and Veg
National Vegetarian Week (#NationalVegetarianWeek) this year ran from 10th to 16th May. It gave us the 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.
Data visualisation and colour blindness
John, our director talks about living and working with colour blindness in the mapping industry where colours are pivotal in adding dimensions to people's understanding.
How far is it to the beach
We use Beacon Dodsworth's scripting technology to answer that most important of questions when the sun finally does threaten an appearance.
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.
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.
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.
How to back up your Prospex data
Keep your GIS projects safe by using the in-built Prospex back up process. Here is how.
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.
The new normal for the GIS world
Toby, our Account Manager, looks at the changes to working style and client needs in the geodata industry following the COVID-19 outbreak.
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.
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.
Geodemographics and the University of East London
The University of East London explain how they have been using our P² People & Places geodemographic classification.
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?
Your continued use of this site is taken as implied consent to receive cookies from us and our analytics partners.