Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-768ffcd9cc-mqrwx Total loading time: 0.401 Render date: 2022-12-02T10:16:08.347Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true


Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2009


Widening inequality in the distribution of resources, higher rates of unemployment and deteriorating conditions in the inner cities have concentrated attention in Britain, and elsewhere in Europe, upon the idea and exact meaning of ‘deprivation’. This scientific concept is used extensively not only in the analysis of social conditions but also, in an applied form, as an instrument of policy in allocating resources to particular regions, areas and services. This paper argues that the indicators which are chosen to represent the phenomenon are often unduly restricted and even involve double counting. As a result the distribution and severity of deprivation seems to be seriously misperceived and resources misallocated. A review of the available studies shows how the concept might be treated more coherently in relation to that of poverty.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1987

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Bentham, C.G. (1980), ‘A Classification of Local Authorities in the UK Inner Urban Area Act 1978’, Environment and Planning 12.Google Scholar
Berkman, L. and Syme, S.L. (1979), ‘Social Networks, Host Resistance and Mortality: A Nine Year Follow-up Study of Alameda County Residents’, American Journal of Epidemiology, 109.Google ScholarPubMed
Berthoud, R. (1976), The Disadvantages of Inequality: A Study of Social Deprivation, A PEP Report, MacDonald and Janes, London.Google Scholar
Black Report (1980), Inequalities In Health, Report of a Working Group, DHSS, London.Google Scholar
Broadhead, W.E. et al. (1983), ‘The Epidemiological Evidence for a Relationship Between Social Support and Health’, American Journal of Epidemiology, 117.Google Scholar
Brown, M. and Madge, N. (1982), Despite the Welfare State, Heinemann Educational Books, London.Google Scholar
Bulmer, M. (1984), ‘Local Inequality: Sociability, Isolation and Loneliness as Factors in the Differential Provision of Neighbourhood Care’, paper presented to the Social Administration Association Conference, University of Kent.Google Scholar
Champion, A.G. and Green, A.E. (1985), In Search of Britain's Booming Towns: An Index of Local Economic Performance for Britain, Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Discussion Paper No. 72.Google Scholar
Charlton, J.R.H., Hartley, R.M., Silver, R. and Holland, W.W. (1983), ‘Geographical Variation in Mortality from Conditions Amenable to Medical Intervention in England and Wales’, The Lancet, 1, 691–96.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cook, D.G. and Shaper, A.G. (1984), ‘Unemployment and Health’, in M. Harrington (ed.) Recent Advances in Occupational Health II.Google Scholar
Coulter, J. (1978), Grid Square Census Data as a Source for the Study of Deprivation in British Conurbations, Working Paper 13, Census Research Unit, Durham University.Google Scholar
Davies, H. (1984), 1981 Census—A Ward Index of Deprivation, GLC Statistical Series No. 35, Greater London Council, London.Google Scholar
Department of the Environment (1975a), Housing Act 1974: Renewal Strategies, Circular 13/75, HMSO, London.Google Scholar
Department of the Environment (1975b), Housing Act 1974: Parts IV, V and VI, Housing Action Areas, Priority Neighbourhoods and General Improvement Areas, Circular 14/75, HMSO, London.Google Scholar
Department of the Environment (1983), Urban Deprivation, Information Note No. 2, Inner Cities Directorate, Department of the Environment, London.Google Scholar
Department of Planning and Design, Sheffield (1983), ‘Areas of Poverty in Sheffield, 1983’, Report to Urban Strategy Panel, Supporting Technical Review of Priority Areas of Deprivation-Methodology, Sheffield.Google Scholar
Desai, M. (1986), ‘On Defining the Poverty Threshold’, in Golding, P. (ed.) Excluding the Poor, Child Poverty Action Group, London.Google Scholar
Desai, M. and Shah, A. (1985), An Econometric Approach to the Measurement of Poverty, Welfare State Programme No. 2, Suntory Toyota International Centre for Economics and Related Disciplines, London School of Economics, London. A revised version also to be published in Oxford Economic Papers (1987).Google Scholar
Eversley, D. and Begg, I. (1984), Deprivation in the Inner City—Social Indicators from the 1981 Census, ESRC, London.Google Scholar
Ferge, Z. and Miller, S.M. (eds) (1987), The Dynamics of Deprivation: A Cross-National Study, for the European Centre for Social Welfare Training and Research, Vienna, Gower Press, London.Google Scholar
Fox, A.J. and Leon, D.A. (1985), Mortality and Deprivation: Evidence from the OPCS Longitudinal Study, Social Statistics Research Unit Working Paper No. 33, City University, London.Google Scholar
GLC (1985), Inner City Policy for London: A Fresh Approach, Greater London Council, London.Google Scholar
Hayes, M.G. (1986), Urban Decline and Deprivation: 1. Liverpool's Relative Position, A Technical Study, City Planning Department, Liverpool.Google Scholar
Holtermann, S. (1975), ‘Areas of Deprivation in Great Britain: An Analysis of 1971 Census Data’, Social Trends, 6, 4348.Google Scholar
Janlert, U. (1982), ‘Unemployment and Health’, Background Paper to WHO Workshop on Health Policy in Relation to Unemployment in the Community, Leeds.Google Scholar
Jarman, B. (1983), ‘Identification of Underprivileged Areas’, British Medical Journal, 286, 17051709.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Jarman, B. (1984), ‘Underprivileged Areas: Validation and Distribution of Scores’, British Medical Journal, 289, 15871592.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Joffe, M. (1985), The Health Effects of Contol Over Your Own Work—A Review of the Scientific Literature, Greater London Council, London.Google Scholar
Mack, J. and Lansley, S. (1985), Poor Britain, Allen and Unwin, London.Google Scholar
Marmot, M.G., Adelstein, A.M., Robinson, N. and Rose, G. (1978), ‘Changing Social Class Distribution of Heart Disease’, British Medical Journal, 2, 11091112.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Marmot, M.G. and McDowell, M.E. (1986), ‘Mortality Decline and Widening Social Inequalities’, The Lancet., 2, 274–76.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Millar, A. (1980), A Study of Multiply Deprived Households in Scotland, Central Research Unit Papers, Scottish Office.Google Scholar
Moser, K.A., Fox, A.J. and Jones, D.R. (1984), ‘Unemployment and Mortality in the OPCS Longitudinal Study’, The Lancet, 13241329.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Platt, S. (1982), ‘Unemployment and Suicide’, Unemployment Unit Bulletin, No. 6, p.4.Google Scholar
Platt, S. (1984), ‘Unemployment and Suicidal Behaviour: A Review of the Literature’, Social Science and Medicine, 19:2.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Redfern, P. (1982), ‘Profile of our Cities’, Population Trends, 30.Google Scholar
Scott-Samuel, A. (1983). ‘Identification of Underprivileged Areas’, British Medical Journal. 287, 130–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sen, A. (1983), ‘Poor Relatively Speaking’. Oxford Economic Papers, 35, 153–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sen, A. (1985), ‘A Sociological Approach to the Measurement of Poverty: A Reply to Peter Townsend’, Oxford Economic Papers, 37, 669–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Thunhurst, C. (1983), ‘Review of Priority Areas of Deprivation—Methodology, Areas of Poverty in Sheffield, 1983’, Report to Urban Strategy Panel, Sheffield.Google Scholar
Thunhurst, C. (1985a), ‘The Analysis of Small Area Statistics and Planning for Health’, The Statistician, 34, 93106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Thunhurst, C. (1985b), ‘Poverty and Health in the City of Sheffield’, for the Environmental Health Department, Sheffield City Council, Sheffield.Google Scholar
Townsend, P. (1979), Poverty in the United Kingdom, Allen Lane and Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, Middlesex.Google Scholar
Townsend, P. (1985), ‘A Sociological Approach to the Measurement of Poverty —A Rejoinder to Professor Amartya Sen’, Oxford Economic Papers, 37, 659–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Townsend, P., with Corrigan, P. and Kowarzik, U. (1987), Poverty and the London Labour Market: The Third London Survey, Interim Report, The Low Pay Unit, London.Google Scholar
Townsend, P., Phillimore, P. and Beattie, A. (1986), Inequalities in Health in the Northern Region: An Interim Report, Northern Regional Health Authority and the University of Bristol, Newcastle and Bristol.Google Scholar
Townsend, P., Simpson, D. and Tibbs, N. (1984), Inequalities of Health in the City of Bristol, Department of Social Administration, University of Bristol, Bristol.Google Scholar
Watkins, S.J. (1982), ‘Recession and Health—A Literature Review’.Google Scholar
Whiteford, P. (1985), A Family's Needs: Equivalence Scales, Poverty and Social Security, Research Paper No. 27, Development Division, Department of Social Security, Melbourne, Australia.Google Scholar
Wilkinson, R.G. (1986), ‘Income and Mortality’, in Wilkinson, R.G. (ed.), Class and Health: Research and Longitudinal Data, for the ESRC, Tavistock, London.Google Scholar
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *