We invited researchers intending to register as GISRUK 2018 conference delegates to develop a novel analysis or visualisation of CDRC and associated data, in order to investigate the hypothesis set out in the Economist article “The immigration paradox Explaining the Brexit vote” that argues that the rate of change in number of migrants in an area rather than the total headcount influenced the Brexit vote. The article can be viewed here.
Issues that we asked participants to potentially address included (but by no means were limited to):
- Whether Local Authority district is the most appropriate scale at which to ground analysis
- Whether country of birth or ethnicity as defined by CDRC is the best predictor of voting behaviour
- Whether the country of birth of recent immigrants plays any role in shaping voting intentions
- Whether enfranchised members of recently arrived ethnic minority groups are themselves likely to vote for Brexit
- Whether established party political affiliations affect the share of the Brexit vote
- Whether voting behaviour varies according to other local, Regional or national circumstances.
We provided two sets of data, to form the main sources of data for the challenge:
- CDRC small area predicted ethnicity data from 1998-2017.
- A copy of the Electoral Commission’s official results of the UK’s EU referendum results, by voting area (council areas in Scotland, constituencies in England and Wales, and a single result for Northern Ireland).
Judging the challenge
In second place, and highly commended by the judges, was “Tension Points: A Theory & Evidence on Migration in Brexit” by Levi John Wolf from the University of Bristol. The judges thought this was a good conceptual work using a variety of datasets including the CDRC’s. It demonstrated a new application of a method, and was clearly constructed, convincingly modelled, showing some interesting findings and a very clear style of presentation, with the technical elements explained well and an effective results dissemination.
However, the winner, by the narrowest of margins, was “SpaCular – Disclosure of spatial peculiarities of the Brexit”, authored by Joao Porto De Albuquerque, Konstantin Klemmer (who presented), Andra Sonea, from the University of Warwick, and Rene Weserholt from the University of Heidelberg. The judges thought this paper showed good conceptual work, new application of a method, was very analytical and made good use of the CDRC-specific data, particularly through exploration of its temporal variation. The delivery of the research was clear and effective.
On winning the prize, presenter Konstantin Klemmer stated “Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this fantastic challenge and, of course, for our award! As recent news regarding the “Windrush” generation show, immigration is one of the most important political issues in the UK. As such, the task set by the CDRC data challenge was particularly fascinating to our team. With backgrounds in geography, social science and computer science, we took an interdisciplinary approach to the challenge, focusing not only on the temporal aspects of immigration, but also the spatial dimension. Our findings not only support the initial hypothesis posed by “The Economist” that change in immigrant population drove the Brexit vote, but also that the spatial composition of immigration patterns is crucial! With information about spatial variation added, we can substantially enhance the initial temporal trend model. The CDRC challenge was an overall great experience for our team and has motivated us to explore our findings further and continue our studies. Thanks again to the whole CDRC team for hosting this brilliant challenge”.
The winning Warwick/Heidelberg team share a prize of £500 and a copy of the best-selling book “London: The Information Capital”, co-authored by CDRC co-investigator and UCL senior lecturer Dr James Cheshire.
The four short papers that were shortlisted for presentation, including the winning one, will be published on the CDRC website in due course.