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The New Zealand Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD): A new suite of indicators for social and health research in Aotearoa, New Zealand

posted on 03.08.2017, 18:02 by Daniel John Exeter, Jinfeng Zhao, Sue Crengle, Arier Lee, Michael Browne

For the past 20 years, the New Zealand Deprivation Index (NZDep) has been the universal measure of area-based social circumstances for New Zealand (NZ) and often the key social determinant used in population health and social research. This paper presents the first theoretical and methodological shift in the measurement of area deprivation in New Zealand since the 1990s and describes the development of the New Zealand Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD).

We briefly describe the development of Data Zones, an intermediary geographical scale, before outlining the development of the New Zealand Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD), which uses routine datasets and methods comparable to current international deprivation indices. We identified 28 indicators of deprivation from national health, social development, taxation, education, police databases, geospatial data providers and the 2013 Census, all of which represented seven Domains of deprivation: Employment; Income; Crime; Housing; Health; Education; and Geographical Access. The IMD is the combination of these seven Domains. The Domains may be used individually or in combination, to explore the geography of deprivation and its association with a given health or social outcome.

Geographic variations in the distribution of the IMD and its Domains were found among the District Health Boards in NZ, suggesting that factors underpinning overall deprivation are inconsistent across the country. With the exception of the Access Domain, the IMD and its Domains were statistically and moderately-to-strongly associated with both smoking rates and household poverty.

The IMD provides a more nuanced view of area deprivation circumstances in Aotearoa NZ. Our vision is for the IMD and the Data Zones to be widely used to inform research, policy and resource allocation projects, providing a better measurement of area deprivation in NZ, improved outcomes for Māori, and a more consistent approach to reporting and monitoring the social climate of NZ.