An introduction to IMD

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The Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) is an overall relative measure of deprivation. This is constructed by combining different domains of deprivation according to their respective weights. The domains cover dimensions related not only to income levels, but to wider issues of deprivation which include access to education and employment opportunities, but also health and crime related inequalities. The IMD represents a ranking system which essentially allows for the composite scores of all these domains to be quantified and assigned to communities. This allows for a more complete picture of deprivation to be gauged which better represents the socio-economic environment which communities typically live in.

The Index of Multiple of Deprivation is divided into ten groups – or deciles. These deciles are allocated to an area known as a Lower-Layer Super Output Area (LSOA) – the smallest geographical unit used to measure census-level data. These small areas contain on average the same number of individuals (for England this is 1,500 average population per LSOA). The IMD ranks these small areas on the scale between the most deprived to the least deprived, using those decile groups. For example, an LSOA in decile 1 would fall within the most deprived 10% of all LSOAs nationally, whereas an LSOA in decile 10 would fall within the least deprived 10% of all LSOAs nationally.

IMD and the information underpinning it is therefore useful in the context of social marketing and road user profiling for road safety insights at both the national and sub-national level. The methodologies used to calculate IMD sometimes differ between governments and devolved administrations.

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