What Is a Deprivation Index?

Alex Newth

A deprivation index is a measurement used to determine how much human deprivation, or poverty, exists in a certain area. The obvious aspect that is measured here is family income, but other aspects exist as well that help researchers determine whether a household is poor. Other factors are consumption, education, health and crime. The deprivation index is made to be backward-compatible so that researchers can find trends in areas going up or down in poverty. One of the major aspects of these reports is showing which areas are getting better and which ones are getting worse.

A deprivation index helps assess how much poverty exists in a given area.
A deprivation index helps assess how much poverty exists in a given area.

This index is a report used to help researchers understand the level and amount of poverty occurring in an area. The information is used for many reasons, such as making new laws to help the deprived, understanding what factors make poverty happen and determining whether an area is improving. By graphing deprivation information, researchers are able to see whether areas are responding positively to change.

Most poverty reports take only income as a factor when determining whether a household is poor. A deprivation index takes many factors into account. Two of the most obvious are income and consumption. Income is the amount of money brought into a house, and consumption is the amount of money spent on bills and necessities. By adding consumption as a factor, families making above-poverty income still might be considered deprived if they are spending more or most of their income on bills and other necessities.

Less-obvious factors include health, crime and education. These factors are added because deprivation exists through several layers and dimensions. High crime, poor education and faltering health usually trend toward poverty — if not at that time, then in the near future. By adding these factors, the deprivation index is able to ascertain true poverty, not just a low-income household.

Another reason for graphing and checking these factors is because it shows exactly how much these factors weigh on deprivation. For example, from a statistical perspective, this graphing system can show how important education is for separating a deprived house from a non-deprived one. This aspect helps governments determine which factors need the most attention to alleviate deprivation.

A deprivation index is made to be backward-compatible. This aspect of the index allows researchers to quickly display which areas have gotten better or worse because of laws or other factors. From this, researchers can inform governmental officials about which programs are helping and which ones are making the situation worse or stagnant.

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