Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods
Sefydliad Ymchwil Gymdeithasol ac Economaidd, Data a Dulliau Cymru

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Implications of Spatial & Temporal Variation in Service Provision for Inequalities in Social Outcomes

Work Package 3.2

Funder: ESRC

Start date: April 2016

End date: March 2018

Research team

Gary Higgs, Mitch Langford (University of South Wales) & Scott Orford (Cardiff University)


The proposed study will carry out analysis of existing secondary sources of quantitative data in order to investigate levels of social capital within communities in relation to changing levels of provision of key public services.

The proposed study will build on research conducted in Phase 1 of WISERD on the use of enhanced two step floating catchment area (E2SFCA) techniques to examine small area variations in accessibility. This study will investigate the use of large scale government social surveys as the primary source of data on social capital using different methodologies. The survey questions used to examine different facets of social capital will be critically assessed in relation to the research questions posed above. A subset will be used to further investigate potential associations with small area variations in accessibility to services.

Furthermore this review will also include a review of sources and methods used in other international contexts drawing on alternative approaches to estimating small area variations in social capital. In addition, the project will take advantage of the data linkage work undertaken as part of the ESRC funded Administrative Data Research Centre Wales (ADRC Wales) at WISERD@Cardiff and Swansea to investigate the potential of utilising administrative data to supplement national survey data in the construction of small area data of social capital. 

Research Questions

  • Which communities have high levels of social capital which could be harnessed to substitute for government or private provision and run services through community-based initiatives or help save facilities at risk of closure?
  • Which areas have lower levels of social capital where existing levels of voluntarism or self-help are insufficient to respond to changes in provision leading to the possibility of increased spatial and social inequalities in accessibility to services?


  • At least four academic papers will be written up based on this research in mainstream geography journals such as Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers and Regional Studies as well as methodological based journals such as Transactions in GIS and International Journal of GIS.
  • Other potential avenues for publications will be sought depending on the outcomes of the research (e.g. Social Indicators Research, Environment and Planning C). 



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