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The areas where people live have an impact on a number of quality-of-life factors. This includes environment; exposure to air pollution, noise pollution or proximities to contaminated land, as well as proximity to green spaces and good outdoor and natural amenities.
We seek to explore inequalities between poor and non-poor households that exist as a result of where people live in relation to these factors outlined above.
We are particularly interested in how these inequalities have changed over time due to changes in where poor and non-poor households live. For example, the many UK cities have experienced decentralisation of poverty as inner cities have been gentrified. We are also interested how these trends in inequality differ between Scotland and England, and between local authorities in Scotland.

Research Papers

Multidimensional inequality has fallen in England but not in Scotland


  • Inequality between poor and non-poor households fell in England over the period 2004 to 2016, but there was no clear reduction in Scotland.
  • Inequality in exposure to air pollution has also fallen in England but again with no significant change in Scotland.
  • Similar trends of falling inequality in England but no significant change in Scotland have been found in relation to access to amenities and housing quality.
  • It is likely that most of these changes are the result of significant decentralisation of poverty in England, which has been less pronounced in Scotland over this period.

Policy implications:

  • These findings emphasise the need to have a holistic approach to tackling multidimensional inequality that takes into account geographical and environmental factors.

Related publication: Unevenness, centralisation of poverty and spatial inequality since Scottish Devolution (in progress)

Fuel tax hikes to reduce emissions will significantly increase regional inequality in UK


  • An obvious way to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses is to increase fuel taxes as a way of discouraging diesel and petrol consumption.


  • Change in spatial flows of internal trade as a result of raising the cost of fuel have measurable energy justice implications: peripheral regions of the economy, in rural and coastal areas and many city outskirts are most vulnerable, as are petrochemical, agricultural and connected sectors.
  • Given that the UK is already one of the most regionally unequal countries in Europe, the effect of further exacerbating regional inequality is a significant and important finding that has major implications for energy policy, not only for the UK but potentially also for developed countries around the world.

Policy implications:

Urban poverty shifting out to the suburbs could further increase inequalities


  • Historically, poverty in the UK has been concentrated near town and city centres.
  • This has had pros and cons for poor households:
    • On the one hand, it means they are closer to public services, amenities and employment opportunities, which tend to be located in urban centres, though they do not always benefit from these.
    • On the other hand, they are more exposed to crime, noise and air pollution, which also tend to be concentrated near urban centres.
  • There is evidence across a range of countries including Scotland (Kavanagh et al. 2016, forthcoming) that urban poverty is decentralising – moving from the inner city to the periphery.


Have ethnic minorities decentralised in Scottish cities, and what is the impact on access to employment, schooling and health services?

We have seen significant changes to the centralisation and spatial ordering of poverty in Scottish cities, but we know little about how these effects or their consequences differ for ethnic minorities.
In this research paper we are interested in addressing two key questions:

(1) has there been significant changes to the spatial distribution of different ethnic minorities (particularly in terms of decentralisation and spatial ordering)?

(2) what have been the impacts in terms of their access to employment, education and health services (GP surgeries), and their exposure to pollution, and crime?

We plan to investigate this using similar methodology to that used by Zhang & Pryce (2018) and to focus on inter-ethnic differences.

This research is in development. If you have any questions about this work, please contact Professor Gwilym Pryce.

Our other areas of research

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