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Statistical geographies in Local Insight

Statistical geographies are integral to Local Insight and are the building blocks on which the tool is based. This article explains how these geographies are used in Local Insight and also provides a background for those not familiar with the geographies.

Viewing data on the maps

In Local Insight you can view data on the maps at Local Authority, Middle layer Super Output Area (MSOA) and Lower layer Super Output Area (LSOA) level across England.

Creating custom areas

Statistical geographies are the building blocks through which data is calculated for custom areas in Local Insight. Read more about how data is calculated for custom areas in Local Insight.

Downloading Data

You can download all the data in Local Insight at Lower layer Super Output Area using the All data download feature.

Introduction to statistical geographies

The vast majority of place-based open data is published at statistical geography level. These statistical geographies; Output Areas and Super Output Areas are standard areas that were primarily designed for the publication of the Census. They have been designed to be fairly homogenous in terms of population size, so that you can compare like-for-like when looking at changes over time & when comparing different areas and different datasets.

Output Areas (OAs): These are the smallest of the geographies that data is published at and have an average population of about 310 residents (the table below shows the upper and lower thresholds). Not very much data is published at this level, although Census outputs are.

Lower Layer Super Output Areas (LSOAs): LSOAs have an average population of 1500 people or 650 households. A lot more data is available directly at LSOA level, including the majority of the data included within Local Insight.

Middle Layer Super Output Areas (MSOAs): MSOAs have an average population of 7500 residents or 4000 households. There are some datasets out there that are published at MSOA level as the smallest geography – for example estimates on prevalence of different health conditions.

Source: Office for National Statistics

The whole of England can be broken down into these constituent areas – or building blocks. OAs nestle within the boundaries of LSOAs, LSOAs nestle within the boundaries of MSOAs and MSOAs nestle within the boundaries of Local Authorities.

NB: Each image is not to scale. These images show how OAs nestle within LSOAs and LSOAs within MSOAs.