Background Despite a concerted policy effort in Europe, social inequalities in health are a persistent problem. Developing a standardised measure of socioeconomic level across Europe will improve the understanding of the underlying mechanisms and causes of inequalities. This will facilitate developing, implementing and assessing new and more effective policies, and will improve the comparability and reproducibility of health inequality studies among countries. This paper presents the extension of the European Deprivation Index (EDI), a standardised measure first developed in France, to four other European countries—Italy, Portugal, Spain and England, using available 2001 and 1999 national census data.
Methods and results The method previously tested and validated to construct the French EDI was used: first, an individual indicator for relative deprivation was constructed, defined by the minimal number of unmet fundamental needs associated with both objective (income) poverty and subjective poverty. Second, variables available at both individual (European survey) and aggregate (census) levels were identified. Third, an ecological deprivation index was constructed by selecting the set of weighted variables from the second step that best correlated with the individual deprivation indicator.
Conclusions For each country, the EDI is a weighted combination of aggregated variables from the national census that are most highly correlated with a country-specific individual deprivation indicator. This tool will improve both the historical and international comparability of studies, our understanding of the mechanisms underlying social inequalities in health and implementation of intervention to tackle social inequalities in health.
- Health inequalities
- Measurement tool Development
- PUBLIC HEALTH
- SOCIAL INEQUALITIES