Map of British local unemployment and the August 2011 riots

We have been working on a map to relate the local area unemployment in Britain with the incidence of riots in August 2011. I discussed why the incidence of unemployment might be a key driving factor for the riots in this blog – I blame the British government for the riots. The map we have now produced provides a stark representation of the geographic coincidence of labour market failure and the rioting.

You can click the graphic to go to the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE) page hosting the map and explore it at your leisure. It works exactly like a Google map with the two additional layers: (a) unemployment rates; and (b) location of riots.

Alternatively, you can access the map HERE.

Many thanks to Michael Flanagan, CofFEE Researcher and map expert for his work.

Brief Video Introduction

This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. I see the strong correlation between the unemployment and the riots, but still a question remains. How would you explain the area near Irvine has little riots, while the employment is very low?

  2. This is some awesome information you and CofFEE have produced, Bill. Thanks!

    It makes me sick how Thatcheristic Cameron is, trying to treat this macro-incident as a huge number of micro-incidents and referring to all this simply as “vandalism and criminality”. Seriously, how dumb/evil can a person be? It’s much harder (and a huge waste of resources) to increase the weight of disincitaments for crime through “law and order” (repression) than it is to reduce the weight of incitaments through welfare.

  3. @Doh:

    It isn’t that strange, is it. Correlation was shown, it doesn’t have to be 1-for-1 and pretty much never is. I mean, there will always be deviation. Also, Irvine is pretty far away and it’s in Scotland, not England. It may be that the Glasgow area lacks other cultural elements that could help trigger events like this.


  4. is it possible to produce similar maps for past british riots in order to observe how the correlation between unemployment and rioting has changed over the decades?

  5. See also: CEPR – AUSTERITY AND ANARCHY: BUDGET CUTS AND SOCIAL UNREST IN EUROPE, 1919-2009, Jacopo Ponticelli and Hans-Joachim Voth (August 2011)

    ABSTRACT: Does fiscal consolidation lead to social unrest? From the end of the Weimar Republic in Germany in the 1930s to anti-government demonstrations in Greece in 2010-11, austerity has tended to go hand in hand with politically motivated violence and social instability. In this paper, we assemble cross-country evidence for the period 1919 to the present, and examine the extent to which societies become unstable after budget cuts. The results show a clear positive correlation between fiscal retrenchment and instability. We test if the relationship simply reflects economic downturns, and conclude that this is not the key factor. We also analyse interactions with various economic and political variables. While autocracies and democracies show a broadly similar responses to budget cuts, countries with more constraints on the executive are less likely to see unrest as a result of austerity measures. Growing media penetration does not lead to a stronger effect of cut-backs on the level of unrest.

  6. Note also: “Planet of Slums, Age of Riots”, George Ciccariello-Maher (August 12, 2011)
    In particular, Argument 3, which claims particular targeting (“riot locations did not correspond directly to the areas with the highest poverty”) by rioters of symbols of wealth and authority, breaking from the standard media narrative that claimed targeting of only local shopkeepers. (Author (Drexel, asst. prof.) does not cite data sources, but e-mail address provided.)

  7. This is really interesting.
    Good point HarPe. Why were there problems in England not Scotland? People living in the Gorbals in Glasgow have a very low life-expectancy rate, one of the worst in Europe.
    And that’s after years and years of piles of money being spent, but a dreadful unemployment rate that hasn’t moved.
    I would love to see these poor people given jobs and pride, as per CofFEE. There used to be employment building ships in the Clyde. Imagine the pride in that.
    It is such a bloody waste.

  8. “Why were there problems in England not Scotland? People living in the Gorbals in Glasgow have a very low life-expectancy rate, one of the worst in Europe.”

    My guess is that this was because people in Scotland don’t actually see themselves as British. They have a whole different culture. So, asking why they didn’t riot with high unemployment is like asking the same question about locations in Ireland with high unemployment: they’re different countries.

    If I were to speculate even more than I already am I’d say that the Scots are a more ‘hardy’ people; by that I mean that they are more used to punishment, historically speaking. It’s the same with the Irish. People wonder why the Irish have been so complacent during the recent crisis. I’ve been telling people time and again that the Irish are a very complacent people by nature when it comes to hardship. Historically they’re used to it. I’d imagine it’s similar with Scots.

    Also there’s a racial component in England that doesn’t exist quite as strongly as it does in Scotland — again, if I understand correctly.

  9. There were no incidents in the Welsh valleys.

    Possible reasons: There is a sense of everyone being poor together, nothing to steal, few fancy shops except miles away down in Cardiff (which did register trouble), no perceived fat cats to steal from or maybe they just felt the class enemies are English not locals.

    Criminality is definitely a problem there, last time I visited my car was stolen and comprehensively trashed within hours….. hardly a wheel left.

  10. Dear Nathan (at 2011/08/16 at 18:38)

    It would be possible to build similar maps (assuming we could get shapefiles = geographic boundaries) back say in the early 1980s, and had the data. At present it is too big a research task given our other project commitments. But certainly the idea would be interesting.

    best wishes

  11. Philip,

    Nope – I live in the UK, in England, married to a Scot.
    Scots I know talk about being British not Scottish, although there are lots that say it the other
    way around, and many don’t care (as long as you don’t call them English!).
    The two countries seem pretty similar. But fewer different races in Scotland, that seems true. I can’t imagine a race riot there. And the poh-lis (police) in Scotland are really, really strict and tough. They don’t seem to have the nice Bobbies they have here.

  12. It’s been a very wet August in Scotland, so any potential rioters stayed at home.

  13. There’s a fairly simple reason why the rioting was in the South of England and not Scotland.

    You need only overlay the rain radar images onto the map. The riots were in deprived areas where it wasn’t chucking it down.

  14. This is prescient too /files/child-poverty-map-o f-the-uk-part-one.pdf
    The correlation between child poverty and local authority spending cuts is disgracefully positive, only Middlesbrough/Hartlepool stand out as areas of high poverty and cuts but no riots…curiously much of the north east seems to have done relatively less bad under Blair/Brown the former an MP for Sedgefield, County Durham in the North East.

    By contrast the lowest child poverty in areas like Sheffield Hallam, Nick Clegg, Witney (I grew up in West Oxon and my parents live there still) Camcorder direct, Rushcliffe Ken Clarke where I live now….strangely no riots in these areas!

  15. Was it raining in Wales as well as Scotland?

    My paternal grandmother was Welsh speaking from Aberystwyth, Ceredigion…

  16. Bill, East Oxford has much higher unemployment and child poverty (suffering the decline of the UK car industry apart from BMW Mini) than the surrounding wealthy areas such as David Camcorder Direct’s in Witney constituency, where I grew up and my parents still live.

    Similarly there are pockets of Reading that are quite rough in the middle of a sea of wealth in Royal Berkshire.

  17. Neil Wilson. Small correction. Rain washed away anything worth stealing in Scotland and Wales.

  18. The above is a succinct example of enlightened and empirical analysis of a socio-economic-political event. I want to ask this basic question. Why doesn’t enlightened and empirical analysis of our political-economic predicament make any headway? I mean why doesn’t it make any headway or gain traction in government, mass media and public discourse?

    Perhaps I ought to define (very briefly) what I mean by “enlightened and empirical analysis”. Enlightened analysis (in this context) means analysis informed by social-democratic principles and the idea that the economy exists for people, not people for the economy. The meaning of “empirical analysis” is straightforward enough. Of course, it means analysis by the direct observation of experience and quantitative analysis of the objective phenomena. Proper empirical analysis can be contrasted to rhetorical analysis of the type employed by the British Prime Minister in his recent speech. This speech set up a series of false dichotomies in the pop(ular) moral philosophy realm and then proceeded to the typical neo-consconervative conclusions.

    “A false dilemma (also called false dichotomy, the either-or fallacy, fallacy of false choice, black-and-white thinking or the fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses) is a type of logical fallacy that involves a situation in which only two alternatives are considered, when in fact there are additional options (sometimes shades of grey between the extremes). For example, “It wasn’t medicine that cured Ms. X, so it must have been a miracle.” – Wikipedia.

    The clear sub-text of the PM’s reasoning was “It is not government or market failure which played any role in causing these riots therefore it must be individual criminality or gang criminiality.” It is intriguing that neoconservatives have been known to say “there is no such thing as society” yet in the next breath they will refer to “gangs”.

    However, we must get back to my original question. Why doesn’t enlightened and empirical analysis of our political-economic predicament make any headway? Enlightened economists in Australia (I am thinking particularly of Bill Mitchell, Steve Keen and John Quiggin) have run their research and analysis, teaching, publication and even prosletyizing (for want of a better word) agendas for twenty years or more and appear to make little impact on government policy, public agendas or public discourse. There appears to be a stifling blanket of general ignorance, anti-intellectualism, conservative prejudice and mass media / corporate propaganda which muffles and silences any intelligent analysis. Facile political rhetoric holds sway and masks the real corporate and neoconservative agendas.

    Can the masses be rescued from their position as producer provender and consumer cattle for late stage corporate capitalism? How could their consciousness be raised so that they could actually hear and understand messages of enlightened and empirical analysis?

  19. Dear Jayne (at 2011/08/19 at 5:00)

    Northern Ireland’s part of Britain too- why is it not included?

    We realise that Northern Ireland is part of Britain but we couldn’t find any data for it to map. Sorry.

    best wishes

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