Are spatial inequalities growing? The scale of population concentrations in England and Wales

Christopher D. Lloyd*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
77 Downloads (Pure)


This paper explores how the population of England and Wales in 2001 and in 2011 was spatially concentrated by a range of demographic, social and economic characteristics. Where members of population sub-groups tend to live apart from members of other sub-groups then the population may be regarded as geographically unequal. In the UK, debates about the north–south divide have reflected the principal geographical division in public perception, with wealth and health inequalities at the forefront. This analysis uses variograms to characterise the differences between areas over multiple spatial scales. There is evidence for stronger spatial structure (more distinct spatial patterning) in variables including car and van availability and ethnicity than in age, self-reported illness, and qualifications, and these relate to urban–rural differences in the former variables. The key contribution of the paper is in using directional variograms and variogram maps to show marked differences in population concentrations by direction with, for example, north–south differences in qualifications being (on average) greater than those in the east–west direction. However, for most variables which show increased variation (and thus suggest increased geographical inequalities) between 2001 and 2011, increases are proportionally similar in all directions. Only in the case of self-reported ill-health does the north–south (or, in this case, north west–south east) divide appear to have increased.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1318-1336
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Issue number7
Early online date23 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • census
  • Inequalities
  • segregation
  • variogram

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


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