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.
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