Household location and income: a spatial analysis for British cities

Publication type

Research Paper


David Cuberes and Jennifer Roberts

Publication date

Series Number



Using information on the exact location of urban households in Britain
for the period 2009-2013 we explore the validity of standard urban land
use models by estimating the extent to which distance of residence from
the city centre is a function of income. This is the first study of its
kind for British cities. After controlling for household characteristics
and access to transport, as well as city and time effects, and taking
account of both spatial and serial correlation, we find a strong
positive association between household’s income and distance from the
city centre. We also estimate the income elasticity of demand for land
and find that this is not large enough to support the view that richer
households locate further from the city centre mainly because they
prefer larger dwellings. Finally, we find that while poorer households
live closer to the city centre, they have experienced increasing real
incomes over the period relative to those who live further away. This
supports the view that cities in Britain attract poor people rather than
generate poverty.


Area Effects, Geography, Urban Economy, Labour Market, Households, Unemployment, Poverty and Income Dynamics



Referenced by: Understanding Society (2018) ‘Written evidence from Understanding Society the UK Household Longitudinal Study (WSN0051) [Work and Pensions Select Committee. Welfare safety net inquiry]’. London: Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. Work and Pensions Select Committee.