Achieving data compatibility over space and time: Creating consistent geographical zones

Paul Norman, Philip Rees, Paul Boyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The importance of boundary specification and problems with using arbitrarily defined subnational areas for the collection and dissemination of socioeconomic data are widely recognised. Much research has focused on the modifiable areal unit problem and on custom zone design, but the practical difficulties created by temporal inconsistencies in zonal boundaries have received less consideration. The UK experiences frequent administrative boundary changes causing difficulties in producing comparable statistics through time. Unless a consistent geographical approach is taken with time-series data, it cannot be known whether changes in the relationships between variables collected for areas at different points in time are real or an artefact of boundary changes. After illustrating the nature of the boundary change problems to be overcome, this paper appraises strategies that can be adopted and develops a method by which time-series data can be established on a consistent geographical basis. © 2003 John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-386
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Population Geography
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2003


  • Boundary changes
  • Geographical conversion tables
  • Time-series data


Dive into the research topics of 'Achieving data compatibility over space and time: Creating consistent geographical zones'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this