Visualising migration between the countries of the UK

14 Mar 2017 21:55 GMT

I've been experimenting with Sankey diagrams using d3 and thought I'd share an example. This visualisation shows migration flows between the different countries of the UK in the year ending June 2015. The data comes from the Office for National Statistics annual release on internal migration. In this dataset, internal migration refers to people moving to a new home in a different part of the UK.

When it comes to migration between the countries of the UK, most of the flows are between England and each of the other countries. There is much less direct migration between Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. This may be because of the geographical arrangement of the UK, the size of England relative to the other countries, the movement of people to and from England's major cities (especially London), or a combination of all those things.

The flows between England and each other part of the UK are fairly balanced, with a similar number of people moving in each direction. Interestingly, the flows between Wales and England are slightly larger than the flows between Scotland and England, even though the population of Scotland is larger than that of Wales. What's not shown in this visualisation is the large number of moves within England itself.

One aspect of these charts that I'm undecided on is how the links — the flowing bridges between the origin and destination nodes — should be shaded. Most of the examples of Sankey diagrams made with d3 use a single neutral colour for all the links (see Mike Bostock's example). In this case I have used asymmetric shading: the links are shaded according to their origin node only. This lets you trace the flows from their origin, reading from left to right, while you can easily see the composition of the flows at the destination without having to trace them back.