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Temporal Uncertainty in a Small Area Open Geodemographic Classification

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The 2001 Output Area Classification (2001 OAC) is an open source geodemographic classification of the UK built exclusively from 2001 UK Census data. There has been considerable user interest in its applicability to subsequent time periods, particularly given the potential propensity of characteristics and attributes in some areas to change during inter‐censual periods. Users often purchase commercial geodemographic classification products in the belief that purely census‐based classifications such as the 2001 OAC are uniformly unreliable because there is no temporal updating of input data. Yet there is evidence to suggest that whilst some UK neighborhoods are prone to sudden changes, many others change very little over protracted time periods. Using measures that are available at the small area level, temporal uncertainty indicators can be constructed to identify those areas that are less stable. Using mid‐year population estimates and dwelling stock data, this article develops three temporal uncertainty indicators. These provide a reliable means of gauging the stability or otherwise of neighborhood conditions. The conclusion from this is that while a large number of small areas in the UK do experience change over time, this change is not uniform in either degree or distribution, or by geodemographic type.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2013

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