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J Epidemiol Community Health. 2012 Nov;66(11):982-9. doi: 10.1136/jech-2011-200311. Epub 2012 Apr 27.

Construction of an adaptable European transnational ecological deprivation index: the French version.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiological Research and Evaluation, CHU de Caen, Caen, France. carole.pornet@inserm.fr



Studying social disparities in health implies the ability to measure them accurately, to compare them between different areas or countries and to follow trends over time. This study proposes a method for constructing a French European deprivation index, which will be replicable in several European countries and is related to an individual deprivation indicator constructed from a European survey specifically designed to study deprivation.


Using individual data from the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions survey, goods/services indicated by individuals as being fundamental needs, the lack of which reflect deprivation, were selected. From this definition, which is specific to a cultural context, an individual deprivation indicator was constructed by selecting fundamental needs associated both with objective and subjective poverty. Next, the authors selected among variables available both in the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions survey and French national census those best reflecting individual experience of deprivation using multivariate logistic regression. An ecological measure of deprivation was provided for all the smallest French geographical units. Preliminary validation showed a higher association between the French European Deprivation Index (EDI) score and both income and education than the Townsend index, partly ensuring its ability to measure individual socioeconomic status.


This index, which is specific to a particular cultural and social policy context, could be replicated in 25 other European countries, thereby allowing European comparisons. EDI could also be reproducible over time. EDI could prove to be a relevant tool in evidence-based policy-making for measuring and reducing social disparities in health issues and even outside the medical domain.

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