- freely available
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(8), 750; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph13080750
2. Transformations in the Political, Conceptual, and Technical Use of Official Data
- Change in official attitudes to the sharing and availability of state held official data. Such data was also more up to date than the census data previously used. This was accompanied by the development of domains that grouped individual indicators together to classify different experiences of deprivation.
- Creation and then availability and access of digital spatial boundary data sets at the level of the small area unit. These were often at a finer spatial resolution than had traditionally been available.
- Tagging of socio-economic data with spatial information so that different datasets could be merged and new information created, usually in a Geographic Information System (GIS) environment.
- A key development was the move away from census proxy indicators to government benefits data and other direct measures of deprivation.
- Complete coverage of the population (100%) as opposed to sample survey methods.
- Time series of data to monitor change over time.
- Commission and adoption of the Indices of Multiple Deprivation as an official policy tool by government and their agencies.
3. Transferring the Lessons from the UK to Germany
4. Current International Progress on Developing Indices of Multiple Deprivation
5. General Barriers to Creating an Index of Multiple Deprivation
- Attribute data does not exist for the whole population other than the census (e.g., many countries use a sample survey approach).
- Data are only census-based and become out of date (Germany, for example, rarely conducts a census; although, updated statistical information is available in Germany on a yearly basis).
- Attribute data do exist but are not publically available, this is usually the default position for government datasets such as benefits. Measures have to be put in place to maintain confidentiality.
- Attribute data are publically available but not in digital format or are in a digital format (e.g., PDF) but do not readily lend themselves to use in databases or GIS.
- Data are not collected at a consistent small unit area level other than maybe the census. Or data is tied to different spatial units and cannot be easily merged to create new data.
- Digital datasets for spatial unit boundaries do not exist.
- Digital datasets for spatial unit boundaries exist but are restricted or prohibitively expensive.
- No easily available identifier to link the spatial data to the attribute data.
5.1. The Advantages of Area-Based Indices
- The Index of Multiple Deprivation can be presented and analysed using a GIS mapping tool. Maps are a very powerful communication device and are commonly understood and used by politicians and the general public. For example, in the UK the use of online mapping sites  and data tools [71,72] readily communicates information to the general public as everyone knows their postcode. The postcode in the UK is used as a unique identifier to bring together different datasets and forms the building block for socio-economic data.
- The mapping of indices allows the targeting of resources to address a problem. In Scotland, for example, access to woodland for deprived groups was increased by targeting grants for new woods at the most deprived areas using a spatial approach with a GIS by Forestry Commission Scotland.
- It is possible to map change over time. This is a particularly important point as the IMD can provide a baseline of data both before and after the interventions and so be used to assess the effectiveness of public policy interventions.
- Planning policy at the regional or local level is one of the strongest means for effecting change. This can be through the granting or refusal of licences for activities with potential negative impacts, through the redesign of urban space which could improve environmental quality (pedestrianisation or restriction of traffic) through compensation for new developments in the provision of green space. A spatial approach ties directly to the planning system, which allows discussion of both the distributive aspects of environmental justice and the procedural ones. This approach is currently out to consultation with specific reference to environmental justice and the planning system by the Scottish Government which includes the proposal to create an all Scotland environmental court .
5.2. Disadvantages of Area-Based Indices
- The ecological fallacy—these are deprived areas, not deprived individuals. Not all individuals who live in a deprived area are deprived and not all deprived individuals live in deprived areas. This means that they do not identify any vulnerability differential between populations living within the selected area. This is a longstanding and well-known issue in the discipline [74,75].
- Methodological issues regarding the weighting of different comments of the index has been raised as an issue. In the most recent IMD 2015 the construction of the index was subject to a two stage consultation process which included discussion of this aspect. No technique is ever neutral especially when dealing with deprivation. Debate and discussion of the domain weightings and transparency of methods are needed and can increase confidence in these tools.
- Large indices draw from various variables representing various dimensions, and are very useful for an overview purpose, but at the same time they may be hiding detailed data and indications—the more variables from different dimensions are included, the more abstract the result is.
6. Use of the Indices of Multiple Deprivation in UK Public Policy
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|Index||Country||Year of First Version||Year of Recent Version||Number of Domains/Indicators||Smallest Spatial Unit||Average Population per Spatial Unit|
|English Indices of Deprivation (ID, IMD)||England||2000 ||2015 ||7/37||Lower-layer Super Output Area (LSOA)||ca. 1500 people|
|Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD)||Scotland||2004 ||2012 ||7/38||Datazones||ca. 800 people|
|Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation (WIMD)||Wales||2000 ||2014 ||8/33||Lower layer Super Output Area (LSOA)||1600 people (min. 1000)|
|Northern Ireland Multiple Deprivation Measure (NIMDM)||Northern Ireland||2001 ||2010 ||7/52||Super Output Area||2000 people|
|Country||Index Denomination Reference||Population per Unit||Indicators: N (Total)/ N (Environment)||Data Source Updates Official Use Environmental Justice Application (EJ) Other Country-Specific Deprivation Indices (DI) Comments|
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