The North-South Divide in England

Essay, 2005

13 Pages, Grade: 2,5


Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Basic definitions

3. Wealth
3.1. Income
3.2. Unemployment
3.2. House prices

4. Health
4.1. Life expectancy
4.2. Healthy life expectancy
4.3. Cancer

5. Other dividing factors

6. Future prospects


Internet sources

1. Introduction

In England today there is a big social and economic gap between the North and the South. Statistics prove the existence of this North-South divide. England is a highly centralised country and has no regional governments. London is the financial, political and cultural centre. London’s influence is one important reason for the South East being the wealthiest region. The living standards are much better there than in the rest of the country.

The decline of the heavy and textile industries after 1945 in the North, once England’s richest region, lead to high unemployment, low productivity and low investments there. This was one cause for the North-South divide we have these days. “Today the Northwest is characterised by high out-migration levels and a high proportion of its workforce is unskilled. Agriculture is less productive than in the South.”[1]

A comparison with the situation in Germany will be left out for lack of space.

2. Basic definitions

Sometimes, to illustrate the North-South divide, there is an imaginary border drawn from Bristol at the West coast to The Wash at the East coast. Sometimes the North is defined as all counties north of Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Gloucestershire.

But however the North and the South are determined, if we have a closer look at figures and statistics it becomes evident that it is too simplistic just to talk about a mere North-South divide in England. Cornwall for example lies in the south as well but is very poor and underdeveloped.

To solve this problem, the ‘core periphery’ model was introduced. On the internet lots of definitions and explanations for this model can be found. The main points and characteristics are listed below and taken from

Core areas are characterised as follows:

- Major centres of growth
- Highly developed
- Urban/industrial based
- Centres of decision-making (political/financial)
- Attract workers, investment and raw materials
Characteristics of peripheral areas:
- Have marginal locations
- Offer poor job opportunities
- Have lower standards of living
- Over-dependant on the primary sector
- Few major centres of urbanisation
- Suffer from out-migration

London and the South East are defined as the inner core, the East, the East Midlands and the West Midlands as the outer core, the North East, North West, Yorkshire & Humber, the South West and Wales as the inner periphery and Scotland and Northern Ireland as the outer periphery. But as we are only interested in England, in this paper the statistics concerning Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are neglected.

3. Wealth

Table 1: Objective economic measures of the core and periphery

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Table 1 shows the gross domestic product per capita by region. The GDP is a strong economic measure and indicator of wealth. It “is the total value of goods and services produced within a country in a year, not including its income from investments in other countries.”[2] If we look at the table it becomes obvious that the inner core and the East are affluent regions while the inner periphery lacks considerably behind the English average.

3.1. Income

Facts concerning income prove the existence of the core periphery model in England. In London and in the whole South East average weekly earnings are the highest. The earnings in the rest of the country are lower. For example, in London, a man in full-time employment earned an average of £556 a week (1998). In all other parts of the country people earned less, especially in the North and South East, as table 1 shows.

In January 2001 the findings of a survey were published in ‘The Guardian’ which showed that people in Surrey, the richest county with an average income of £33,400 earn 88% more than in Cornwall and 80% more than in Tyne and Wear. According to the survey the highest earning postcode area was west London (£34,200 average yearly income per household), compared to Sunderland which was the lowest (£17,000).[3]



[2] Sinclair, John (Ed.): Collins Cobuild Advanced Learner’s. Fourth edition; Glasgow 2003


Excerpt out of 13 pages


The North-South Divide in England
University of Constance
Area Studies England
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
1245 KB
North-South, Divide, England, Area, Studies, England
Quote paper
Marco Kerlein (Author), 2005, The North-South Divide in England, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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