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A name-based analysis of the historical roots to contemporary inequalities

Authors: TIAN LAN*, University College London, Justin van Dijk, University College London, Paul Longley, University College London
Topics: Regional Geography, Migration, Population Geography
Keywords: Geodemographics, surname analysis, inter-generational migration, inequalities
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The distinctive geographic origins of surnames and local and regional heterogeneity in their mixes render them useful, yet under-researched, indicators of the demographic and socio-economic profiles of neighbourhoods. This paper takes a long-term historical perspective upon this phenomenon in order to investigate the present-day outcomes of inter-generational migration of family groups in England. We first define surname geographies according to their local, regional, national and international extents by measuring concentrations of their occurrences in the 1881 Census of Population. Using a near-complete database comprising names and addresses of all adults in the UK, we assign each member of the 2016 English population to one of four surname groups based upon local, regional, national or international origins. We then use segregation analysis and geodemographic profiling in order to characterise the mixture of groups, not using conventional measures of ethnicity, but rather according to the probable length of family establishment in localities. The results indicate the existence of a platial hierarchy in which larger conurbations such as London and Manchester have a more diverse surname mixture than other areas in the country. Furthermore, after cross-tabulating the degrees of mixture with the 2011 UK Output Area Classification, our preliminary results suggest a link between contemporary mixtures of the local, regional, national and international surnames and a number of present-day social and economic issues.

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