Exploring the utility of grids for analysing long term population change

C. D. Lloyd*, G. Catney, P. Williamson, N. Bearman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
184 Downloads (Pure)


This paper details an innovative approach which enables the analysis of small area population change across four decades. Population surfaces are generated using small area data (enumeration districts or output areas) for each Census from 1971 to 2011 inclusive. The paper details the methods used in the creation of these surfaces, and discusses the rationale behind this approach, arguing that grids represent the most appropriate model for assessing population distributions. Methods for grid creation are tested using pre-existing population grids for Northern Ireland as a benchmark. The method developed is then applied to create population grids for the rest of the UK for 1971, 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2011. The changing population structures of small areas across these five time points are explored here to illustrate the value of this approach. The publically-available data resource – the final product of the ‘PopChange’ project – will facilitate exploration of long-term changes in populations over small areas. The paper argues that maximum advantage could be taken of the ‘big data revolution’ if such data were gridded in a similar way, allowing them to be placed in a longer-term historical context, using tools made available through the PopChange project.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
JournalComputers, Environment and Urban Systems
Early online date30 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecological Modelling
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Urban Studies


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