Residential moves out of London and deprivation

What we learn from this data:

  • Two decades ago, for the vast majority of Londoners a move out of the capital meant a better quality of life economically.
  • Today the two-tier nature of London means the picture is far more nuanced. The residents of the poorest boroughs no longer see such stark decreases in deprivation when they move outwards, and those in the outer London boroughs may actually worsen their quality of lives by leaving the city.

The dataset

New analysis of a dataset on 'Residential Mobility and Deprivation' produced by the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) reveals what happens to people’s quality of life as measured by levels of neighbourhood deprivation when moving out of Greater London.

Deprivation Rank Changes for London Leavers: Historic (1999)

The analysis of people moving out of London in 1999 shows a striking pattern - an almost universal decrease in deprivation (with a corresponding uplift in quality of life), when each mover's ultimate destination in the UK is compared with the deprivation levels of the place in London they moved from. Only the City of London and Richmond-upon-Thames, both boroughs with low levels of deprivation, see movers having an increase in deprivation on average, measured by the change in deprivation rank.

Many of the boroughs have extremely large decreases, with moves out from Islington seeing 46% rank decreases, so effectively moving from the higher half to the lower half of the country in terms of deprivation rank. The changes in moves from outer boroughs is less stark but still significant. Only the three eastern-most boroughs show low levels of deprivation changes. Moves out of these boroughs are not 'big city' moves but most likely more local moves, particularly across to the affluent parts of Essex from these boroughs which were formerly part of that county.

Deprivation Rank Changes for London Leavers: Recent (2019)

By contrast, by 2019, the picture is much more mixed. Twenty years of deprivation changes in London have resulted in more of a two-tier city. In 2019, moves from outer London boroughs often saw an increase in deprivation, and western inner London has also become less deprived so that movers out of London from this part of the city see a less pronounced deprivation decrease. However, movers in the east and south inner city still experience a more than 15% rank decrease in deprivation by leaving London.

Areas have changed at different rates. Kensington & Chelsea remains almost unchanged, exhibiting only a 0.5% variation in the deprivation experienced by leavers, across 20 years, while those moving out of Havering and the City of London have experienced less than 2% variation. By contrast, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Islington have seen around a 20% change: leaving these boroughs no longer results in large improvements in neighbourhood conditions, most likely in large part because these boroughs have experienced dramatic changes in their deprivation profiles over the last 20 years.

Analysis of the flows of many thousands of movers over the study period reveals that, today, it is no longer simply the case that thata those leaving London are fleeing deprivation. The complexion of different boroughs has changed at different speeds, and so the motivations for (and outcomes of) leaving London are becoming more varied and nuanced.

About the maps

The data for these maps derive from CDRC’s Linked Consumer Registers, which match names of movers with changed addresses right across the UK, over 24 years, in a comprehensive record of where and when households move. The registers also record the attributes of the origin and destination neighbourhoods using standardised Indexes of Multiple Deprivation for the UK nations throughout the data collection period. We aggregate and average the changes in deprivation associated with each London Borough in order to preserve confidentiality.

We focus on the differences in deprivation scores arising from moves originating in London boroughs with destinations beyond the capital. Deprivation scores are recorded at a detailed statistical level (Lower layer Super Output Areas, LSOAs). Our aggregated borough maps show the changes in deprivation experienced by movers when they move out of each London borough to non-London destinations in two years - 1999 and 2019.