Categories out of context – elderly in need


We can detect similar problems if we use a chi-score classification of household types to investigate the distribution of elderly.  We can do this by scrutinising the demographic profiles of these household types using age-sex pyramids for single and married people.






Look at the boxed in pyramids for the study area. We have separate pyramids for single (on the left) and married people (on the right).   The vertical scale shows the 5-year age categories and the frequencies for males and females are shown on left and right respectively of each pyramid. These conventional age-sex pyramids show the percentage of population in each subcategory. Although some of their shapes (such as the two pointed to by red arrows) look distinctly different, it is quite difficult to make comparisons.




If we plotted the Xs values instead of ratios, the picture looks very different. The black cells show an excess of a category while the white cells show a deficit.  The values for the elderly are shown at the top of each pyramid.  Only the first 5 types of areas (rows) show an excess of elderly.If we focused on areas with an excess of elderly, we can see that they tend to be concentrated in 4 types of areas as shown in the following maps.




The first type (row 1 in the  slide) occurs in scattered rural areas (difficult to see here) and has a slight excess of single elderly males, which is consistent with outmigration of younger people from rural areas. The second type is shown in blue and is particularly prominent in the older industrial towns (centre right) but also occurs in centres like Birkenhead (on the Wirral).   This is picking out places where people are aging in situ, as in the rural areas. The excess of elderly females (war widows) is especially marked (in row 2 of the above slide).   Young couples are able to move into these areas.




The third type, shown in red in the above map, was found mainly in retirement resorts and leafy suburbs with an excess of especially married senior citizens (see row 3 of the pyramids).The fourth and fifth types are very similar and are found mainly in the inner city areas as shown in this slide.  Rows 4 and 5 of the age-sex pyramid show an excess of single people, including single elderly.  Single elderly people do not have  supportive spouses.





These pictures tell us something about the use of %elderly in deprivation studies.    It is important to make a distinction between people in need and places in need of regeneration.   Retirement resorts, attracting the mobile retired, are not in the same category, nevermind degree of need, as isolated rural communities, decaying industrial towns or inner city areas with ageing populations.The same variables, therefore, can be indicators of deprivation and need, on the one hand, and life choices and relative comfort on the other.Given maps and diagrams, based on transparent area classifications, it is relatively easy to engage even street knowledge in evaluative studies.