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Economic change and social inequalities.

Economic change and social inequalities.

The exam board’s expectations are that you study either Demographic and Cultural characteristics or this section on economic change and social inequalities. You do not need to do BOTH.

There are lots of ways and factors that you could examine to explore the idea of economic change and social inequalities.

Economic Change

Economic change is all to do with how people make their money, from what activities and how that alters over time. Economic Inequality is the difference found in various measures of economic well-being among individuals in a group, among groups in a population, or among countries.

Within your place studies you could examine;

  1. How the employment structure has changed over time – so are people working in primary, secondary, tertiary or quaternary jobs?
  2. The unemployment and employment rates – how many people are in employment, has that changed over time?
  3. House prices – this could be explored using CDRC maps or Zoopla
  4. Gross disposable household income (GDHI) - this is the amount of money that all of the individuals in the household sector have available for spending or saving after income distribution measures (for example, taxes, social contributions and benefits) have taken effect.1
  5. The Census data criteria of which many are to do with economic activity, including occupation type, housing tenure and types of economic activity. There is a graph below showing change over time for Keswick and 4 census wards in Newcastle between the 2001 and 2011 census for employment status.

Employment staus graph

Social Inequalities

Even in the UK we have people living in poverty, an absolute standard based on a minimum amount of income needed to sustain a healthy and minimally comfortable life, in this case, within an urban area. The UK government is often concerned about multiple deprivation, when different types of deprivation e.g. lack of education, poor health, high crime levels, high unemployment are combined into one overall measure of deprivation. This is measured using an Index of Multiple deprivation - a UK government qualitative study of deprived areas in English local councils. It includes 7 factors: Income, Employment, Health deprivation and Disability, Education Skills and Training, Barriers to Housing, and Services, Crime, Living Environment.2

In the 2019 report on “The English Indices of Deprivation” it can be seen that the 10 most deprived places in England are dominantly in the Geographic North and are all major urban areas that have suffered deindustrialisation. That is not to say that multiple deprivation occurs only there, but these are the most deprived places.

Most deprived areas


You can examine the Index of Multiple Deprivation at the fantastic CDRC website. You could also examine some of the individual factors that go into it, such as income and education. Or perhaps you could explore crime statistics using your local constabulary website or a website such as who map criminal behavior! This can be seen on the example below.


Another good source of information for investigation economic change and social inequalities are your local council websites. As with the example below, they can provide a huge range of statistical information on a range of variables collected from many different data sources. The placemaking movement seeks to break down these inequalities and make places accessible to all.4

Know Newcastle

NEXT TOPIC - Investigating places: quantitative and qualitative


1 - Office for National Statistics (2018) - Gross Disposable Household Income. Accessed 18th May 2020 at

2 – Penney (2019), The English Indices of Deprivation 2019, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Accessed 30th December 2019 from -

3 - Sarah Ledger (2016), Byker Ward profile. Know Newcastle. Accessed the 18th of May 2020 at

4 – Project for Public spaces (date unknown), Equity & Inclusion - Accessed the 18th of May 2020 at



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