This short article explores a variety of different data for 12 large cities in the UK compared against a selection of other European cities – topics include demography, climate, and crime to name a few. The purpose of this is to highlight the variety of data published through the Urban Audit data source, and to explore some aspects of the quality of life experienced in these cities. Data for all UK cities is included as part of this release. An interactive map of the data presented in this article is also provided.
This short article explores a variety of different data for 12 large cities in the UK compared against a selection of other European cities – topics include demography, climate, and crime to name a few. This article shows how this data can be used to explore some aspects of the quality of life experienced across Europe.
“What is the Urban Audit?”
Approximately 80 per cent of the population of Europe lives in cities, and the Urban Audit project provide statistics for these areas - over 300 cities across 31 (European Union countries plus, Turkey, Croatia, Norway and Switzerland) countries and for over 300 statistical indicators. Urban Audit is a European Commission sponsored project to collect quantitative information on the quality of life in European cities in support of European Union (EU) policy initiatives on urban development. It is a joint project between Eurostat (Europe’s statistical office) and the respective statistical offices for each country. The data for Urban Audit IV, the most recent Urban Audit project, was collected during 2011 with a reference period of 2008.
”Why is it a valuable data source?”
The world continues to ‘shrink’ as new technologies, better communication and transport have increased the mobility of individuals and businesses. This is particularly true in Europe where trade between countries is encouraged, and the open borders policy of the EU allows free movement of individuals between countries with few restrictions. For this reason it is becoming more important for cities to compare themselves not only with other cities within a country, but with other areas of Europe and the world. This information can help inform the development of future strategies and services to provide a better quality of life. This in turn can help make a city a more attractive place for a skilled labour force, businesses, students, tourists and residents.
Map 1 below shows the location of these cities chosen for comparison. An interactive version of this map that displays the data used in the article for each city.
These cities were chosen in order to be representative of a number of countries, however as some of the 2008 data have not yet been published for some countries, the cities chosen reflect the availability of published data by country and similarity in population size with the 12 UK cities. All figures are for 2008 unless otherwise specified.
A wide range of demographic indicators are available through the Urban Audit data source, population, population density and demographic dependencies to name a few. Figure 1 below shows the range of population across the selected cities. The 11 largest UK cities plus Belfast were included in this comparison, ranging from Greater London at close to 8 million, to Belfast with a population of around 268,000. Statistics are shown for both Inner and Greater London where possible1. The selected European cities were chosen to broadly reflect the range of population in the 12 UK cities, ranging from Berlin at 3.4 million to Bergen at 248,000.
Figure 2 shows how the annual growth of these cities has varied over the previous 5 years. Oslo, Murcia and Manchester have seen the largest annual growth of around 2 per cent per year, whilst, Liverpool, Hannover and Glasgow have seen only small growth. Belfast was the only city in this comparison to have seen a population decline, at around 0.24 per cent per year.
Demographic dependency measures the economic burden on the economically active with respect to the economically inactive population. Figure 3 shows the ratio of the population that are dependent on those aged 20 to 64, expressed here as a percentage.
Among the cities compared, Bradford has the highest dependency, with a ratio of 71 per cent. In other words for every 100 people aged 20 to 64 there are 71 people aged under 20 or over 64. Belfast and Birmingham have a very similar dependency ratio. The majority of the cities have a ratio of between 50 and 65 per cent, but Inner London has the lowest ratio at 45 per cent.
Old age dependency is of particular interest as it is well documented that most countries have an ‘ageing population’. This will likely increase the proportion of older people who are dependent on the younger working population. In many countries politicians are grappling with the realities of an ageing population, such as pension provision and the provision of care, but also looking at the opportunities that this phenomenon can bring.
Figure 4 shows that the three German cities (Hannover, Berlin and Cologne) have some of the highest dependency ratios in this comparison, with around 28 to 32 people aged 65 or over for every 100 people aged 20 to 64. At the other end of spectrum London (both Greater and Inner London), Manchester and Bristol have some of the lowest ratios, between 14 and 20 per cent. This suggests that these cities have a lower proportion of older people compared with many of these European cities.
Figure 5 looks at infant mortality and shows that all of the UK cities in this comparison had higher rates compared with the other European cities. Bradford and Birmingham had the highest rates at 8 deaths per 1,000 live births. Of the UK cities, both Greater and Inner London had the lowest rates at 4 deaths per 1,000 live births. Gothenburg, Stockholm and Bergen had the lowest rates, at 2 deaths per 1,000 live births.
1 Greater London includes all 32 London boroughs plus the City of London. Inner London includes 13 London Boroughs plus the City of London, which are located in central London.
There are many benefits which come with being an economically successful city. One advantage is that this can become easier to attract skilled workers and those seeking to improve their financial position. There are many economic indicators which are available as part of the Urban Audit data, such as unemployment and economic activity rate.
Figure 6 shows that of the cities compared, Berlin has the highest unemployment rate at just over 15 per cent. Birmingham, Hannover and Manchester have the next highest rates, around the 11 per cent mark. A collection of cities have rates around 6 to 7 per cent, including London, Liverpool, Murcia and Madrid. The two Norwegian cities (Oslo and Bergen) have the very lowest unemployment rates at less than 2 per cent. It should be noted that the reference period for these data is 2008, and so the effects of the global recession over the period 2008 to 2009 were unlikely to have fully developed at this point.
Economic activity in each city is also important – this is the proportion of the population aged 20-64 who are either employed or are looking for work3.
Figure 7 shows that Oslo and Bergen (which have the lowest unemployment rates) also have the highest economic activity rates. Unsurprisingly some of the cities with the highest unemployment, such as Manchester and Birmingham, also have some of the lowest rates of economic activity; however this is not always the case. Berlin has the highest unemployment rate but average economic activity rates in this comparison.
3 Note that this is not simply the reverse of unemployment as unemployment uses those who are economically active as a denominator rather than the whole working age population.
Climate can have an important impact on many aspects of life in a city. It can influence the type of entertainment on offer to residents, the type of tourism it provides, transportation options and even the health of its residents. Climate can also be a factor in the perceived attractiveness of a city.
Figures 8 and 9 show that Murcia and Valencia have the highest average temperatures for both the warmest and coldest months, over 25°C and 10°C respectively. All other cities in this comparison are further north and so experience average temperatures of between 15°C and 20°C in the warmest month. It might be expected that Oslo, Bergen or Stockholm may have the lowest temperatures in their warmest months given that they are the furthest from the equator, but out of the cities compared, these three cities are warmer than the majority of UK cities. Leeds and Bradford have the lowest average temperature during the warmest month (15°C); however, this switches in the coldest month, where Oslo, Gothenburg, and Stockholm all had average temperatures below freezing - much lower than all UK cities.
Figure 10 shows that Bergen had by far the most rainfall in 2008, with over 2,500m2. Glasgow had the next highest rainfall with 1,500m2, then Bradford and Leeds (~1,250m2). Murcia had the lowest rainfall, 250m2, about 10 per cent of that for Bergen.
Figure 11 shows that Sheffield has the most days where particulate matter exceed the 50ug/m3 concentration level (17) and Bristol experienced the next highest number of days (15). Edinburgh experienced no days where the matter exceeded this level, whilst Bergen and Stockholm each experienced only 2 days. In general, UK cities appear to be more polluted than the other cities in this comparison.
Housing costs are a major factor in the cost of living. Figure 12 shows the cost of a house per m2. These housing costs will in turn influence mortgage or rent costs, which form part of the cost of living.
Of the cities in this comparison, Madrid and Oslo, both capital cities, have the highest house prices per m2 (around 4,000 euros per m2) followed by Edinburgh and Valencia (around 3,000 euros per m2). Liverpool, Hannover and Bradford are the lowest in this comparison, at around 1,700 euros per m2. No data were provided for London, but it seems likely that house prices there are amongst the highest in Europe.
Creating skills, and attracting and retaining people with the right skills is important to the success of businesses and in turn important to the economic prosperity of a city. Different cities have a differing mix of industry and different industries need different workforce skills, however a broad measure of the skills that are created and exist in the population are shown in Figures 13 and 14. Figure 13 shows the number of students per 1,000 population who are in tertiary (post-secondary) education, whilst Figure 14 shows the proportion of the population who are qualified at tertiary level.
UK cities had some of the highest proportions of students in tertiary education in this comparison. Manchester has the highest proportion of students in tertiary education at 138 per 1,000 population. Valencia had the next highest at around 114 per 1,000 population. At the other end of the spectrum Bradford had the lowest proportion of students in tertiary population at 22 per 1,000 population, almost half that of the next lowest cities, Berlin, Bristol and Greater London, with around 40 students per 1,000 population. These statistics are likely to be influenced by the educational institutions available within these cities and also the age-structure of the population.
The cities with the highest proportions of students studying at tertiary level do not necessarily have the highest proportion of the population who are qualified at this level. Manchester, which has the highest proportion of students in tertiary education, has one of the lowest proportions of the population qualified at tertiary level, at 27 per cent. Edinburgh has the highest proportion of the population qualified at tertiary level at 44 per cent, followed by Oslo with 42 per cent. Liverpool and Bradford have the lowest proportions qualified at tertiary level, at 20 and 21 per cent respectively.
Crime and the fear of crime can have an important impact on how residents perceive their quality of life. There are a variety of crime statistics included as part of the Urban Audit release; domestic burglary, recorded crime, murders and violent deaths are a few. Figure 15 presents the number of domestic burglaries per 1,000 population.
Figure 16 shows that Manchester has the highest domestic burglary rate amongst the cities compared with 15 burglaries per 1,000 inhabitants. Valencia and Bergen have the lowest rates among the cities compared with 1 domestic burglary per 1,000 inhabitants. Out of the UK cities compared, Glasgow had the lowest rate.
Several transport indicators are included in the Urban Audit data source, including number of cars registered, motorcycles registered and cost of public transport. Figure 17 presents the number of cars registered per 1,000 resident population.
Inner London has the lowest rate of car ownership at 225 cars per 1,000 population, which is likely to reflect a good public transport system and possibly the disincentive of congestion charging. Manchester and Glasgow also have a relatively low level of car ownership. The three Spanish cities, Murcia, Madrid and Valencia, have the highest level of car ownership and all have very similar rates, with at least 484 cars per 1,000 population.
Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A further round of data collection is due to start in April 2012 and this will include the latest data where possible.
Data for UK cities is availble - this is correct as at 08/03/12
You are able to access the data through the database links on the right.
This article focuses on a small number of data sets collected for the Urban Audit IV project for a selection of cities within a selection of countries. Not all variables are available for all countries and not all variables were published at the time of writing. More will be loaded in due course. We would be interested to hear how you have, or plan, to use the Urban Audit data or other European data. This will help improve our understanding and help inform the direction of any future article(s).
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