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Developing a Deprivation Index: The Research Process
Published on 02/12/2009
This paper tells the story of the development of the Ontario Deprivation Index by the Daily Bread Food Bank and the Caledon Institute of Social Policy. A ‘deprivation index’ is a list of items which are widely seen as necessary for a household to have a standard of living above the poverty level. Almost all households not in poverty will have all these items, but households in poverty are likely to find some of them unaffordable. By asking whether a household can afford all the items on the list, we can identify those that are poor. The index should therefore contain those items that distinguish the poor from the non-poor in the prevailing social and economic conditions.
A three-stage community-based research process was used to develop the measure, engaging those with lived experience of poverty. Statistics Canada has now refined this list and incorporated it as a supplement to their Labour Force Survey, under the sponsorship of the Government of Ontario. The result of the process was the creation of the Ontario Deprivation Index, which constitutes one part of the multi-indicator “Child and Youth Opportunity Wheel” in the Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy. This is the first poverty measure to be developed through a unique partnership of a community organization, a policy think tank, government and Statistics Canada. It is also the first time a deprivation index has been developed in North America. The deprivation index is an innovative way of measuring poverty, different than all the other measures now used in Canada.
ISBN – 1-55382-419-9