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” (Jul 14th 2016) 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 at: https://www.economist.com/news/britain/21702228-areas-lots-migrants-voted-mainly-remain-or-did-they-explaining-brexit-vote

We welcome analysis based on parts or all of the CDRC data listed below as well as analysis that links this with other CDRC data and other data holdings.

Issues that might be addressed include but are by no means 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, these two should 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).

These datasets are no longer available for download, as the deadline for notification of intention to participate has passed.

A requirement of one of the data source providers is that access to this data is restricted to participants in the CDRC GISRUK Data Challenge. Participants do not need to be GISRUK delegates at the time of getting their submissions in, but, in the event of becoming one of the four finalists, must be willing to register, attend and present at GISRUK which will be held at the University of Leicester, 17 - 20 April 2018.

Useful information

You may be interested in obtaining and using the referendum results for smaller areas, as part of the challenge. Two such datasets we recommend are:

You will also need geographical dataset and/or lookup files, to map between the geographies used in the small area data (LSOA/Data Zone etc) and the referendum results (Constituency/Ward/Council Area/region etc). These can be obtained via the ONS Geospatial Portal (for England/Wales) and equivalent resources for Scotland/NI:

About the CDRC dataset

The small area data combines historical electoral roll and consumer register data (on surnames and locations) between 1998 and 2017 with a special aggregated metric derived from ONS data* which lists the most frequently selected second-level ethnicity category for most surnames - see the section "What is the recommended ethnic group question for use on a survey in England?" at https://www.ons.gov.uk/methodology/classificationsandstandards/measuringequality/ethnicgroupnationalidentityandreligion

We do a slight aggregation on these second-level ethnicity categories. We then aggregate by 2011 LSOA (SOA for NI, Data Zones for Scotland). Category populations less than 5 are set to 0. The results are then divided by the total population and rounded to the nearest 0.005 (i.e. 0.5%).

Our aggregated ethnicity categories used are (with codes used in the data files):

  • WBR - White: British (including English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish)
  • WIR - White: Irish
  • WAO - White: Any Other
  • ABD - Asian/Asian British: Bangladeshi
  • ACN - Asian/Asian British: Chinese
  • AIN - Asian/Asian British: Indian
  • APK - Asian/Asian British: Pakistani
  • AAO - Asian/Asian British: Any Other
  • BAF - Black/Black British: African
  • BCA - Black/Black British: Caribbean
  • OXX - Any Other Ethnic Group (including Mixed; Black/Black British: Any Other; Arab; All Other Ethnicities; &c.)

N.B. Totals may not add up to 1.000 (100%) because of rounding, but also because of an Unknown ethnicity category which is not included in the datafiles supplied here. Its population is insignificant for virtually all areas and only appears from 2013 onwards, due to an internal methodological change.

Participants should be mindful that this is a dataset of ethnicity categories and not one showing migration, citizenship, nationality or country of origin.


Applicants informed CDRC of their intention to participate in the Challenge to o.obrien [at] ucl.ac.uk on/before the 11th February 2018, including title of paper, author(s) and institution. Applicants should prepare a two A4 page case study of their analysis and submit to o.obrien [at] ucl.ac.uk by the 4th March 2018. These summaries will be used to select 4 finalists projects to be presented at the GISRUK conference. Finalists will be notified by the 19th March.

The best analysis based on the case study and presentation as judged by a panel made up of CDRC staff and GISRUK organisers will be awarded a £500 prize.

The four finalist case studies will be made available on the CDRC website and any outputs made available through the CDRC open service.

Research submitted to CDRC for the challenge can then be subsequently published by applicants themselves, if desired, regardless of whether it is chosen for presentation at GISRUK 2018. Applicants may not however carry out or publish further/alternative substantive research with the data beyond what they have submitted to us, due to the above restrictions stipulated by an upstream data provider.


The formal call page is at http://leicester.gisruk.org/cdrc-gisruk-data-challenge/

*This special table was derived as part of a ESRC-funded project "Ethnicity Estimator" - Virtual Microdata Laboratory project number: 0000013. It is a diagnostic table resulting from the application of CDRC algorithms. The aggregate data was provided by ONS within the VML.

Data and Resources

To access the data, please contact us via info@cdrc.ac.uk

Additional Info

Field Value
Product CDRC Ethnicity Modelling
Date Range 1998-2017
Collecting Date 1998-2017
Data Collector CDRC
Update Frequency One-off
Geographical Scales Lower Layer Super Output Level, Data Zone
Analytical Units Person
Data Kind CSV
Bounding box United Kingdom
Nation United Kingdom
Source URL N/A
Source CDRC
Creator CDRC
Creator Email data@cdrc.ac.uk
Publisher CDRC
Publisher Email data@cdrc.ac.uk
Publication Year 2017
Geography URL Various
Attribution Statement Copyright CDRC 2017.
Maintainer Consumer Data Research Centre
Maintainer Email data@cdrc.ac.uk