Dr Özge Öner, Sidney Fellow and Director of Studies in Land Economy, and her co-author Dr Maria Abreu (Pembroke College) have been awarded the Ashby Prize for innovative research in the field of 'Environment and Planning: Economy and Space' by the top Urban and Regional Planning Journal.

The Ashby Prize is awarded to the most innovative paper published in Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space during the previous calendar year.

Dr Öner and Dr Abreu’s winning paper, ‘Disentangling the Brexit vote: The role of economic, social and cultural contexts in explaining the UK’s EU referendum vote’, can be accessed on the SAGE Journals website.

A rapidly growing literature investigates the role of individual and geographical determinants of voting behaviour in the context of the recent EU referendum in the UK. An important issue is the extent of the interaction between individual voter characteristics and the geographical context in which they live, with some of the variance in voter preferences previously attributed to individual characteristics potentially being mediated by the geographical context. Space, and the people who live in it, are in continuous interaction, which requires a careful conceptual and empirical treatment of the issues of composition and sorting.

The authors ask in the paper to what extent individuals with very similar individual characteristics voted differently in different places. They use data from the British Election Study, along with a non-parametric matching approach, to analyse whether comparable individuals voted differently in areas with particular economic and cultural characteristics. They find that composition effects account for less than half of the observed constituency-level variation in the vote, while the remaining contextual effects are driven almost entirely by cultural factors.

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