DAERA produces urban/rural comparisons of statistical data across a wide range of social and economic domains, in order to inform public policy and urban/rural research.
The statistics include urban/rural comparisons for population change, household characteristics, income and earnings, employment and economic activity, business and investment, telecommunications, health and wellbeing, education, housing, crime, tourism, travel and transport.

Rural Statistics

The information presented in the data tables, and in the annual ‘Key Rural Issues’ report, is derived from a number of sources, including the 2011 Census, NISRA statistical surveys, and government administrative databases.

Where possible, the data also compares the rural population in terms of distance to Belfast and/or to a medium or large town.

Urban/Rural Definition

The urban/rural comparisons in these statistics are based on the settlement classifications developed by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) in 2015.

The 2015 classification proposed a population threshold of 5,000 to differentiate urban and rural..

The classification also took access to a range of key services (e.g. doctors, schools, supermarkets) for each settlement into account. This is measured by calculating estimated travel times to key service locations, in practice, the town centre of a settlement containing at least 10,000 usual residents is considered to be a suitable definition for such a location.

Accordingly, areas have been classified by whether they are within a 20 or 30 minute ‘drive-time’ of the centre of a settlement containing at least 10,000 usual residents. Areas were further classified according to their distance from Belfast.

NISRA has produced urban/rural lookup tables based on these classifications at a number of administrative and statistical geographies and these are available on the Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service website.


The annual ‘Key Rural Issues’ publication presents data from a range of sources from a unique urban/rural perspective, in order to highlight key urban/rural differences across domains in Northern Ireland.

Urban/Rural Data Tables

The DAERA Rural Statistics team has collated a range of urban/rural analyses, using data collected by the government and the private sector.  The most recent available urban/rural breakdowns across sectors are provided below.

Population and Demographics

Household Data

Economic Activity


Health, Education and Wellbeing

Farmer Equality Indicators

This information is drawn from the analysis of a dataset produced through a large scale linkage project carried out in association with the Administrative Data Research Centre, Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme

Each year DAERA is required to produce the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme Annual Implementation Report (AIR) and Citizen’s summary to meet EU reporting obligations.

DAERA produces Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme Section 75 reports annually to meet statutory equality monitoring obligations.

Other Research

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