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The Administrative Data Research Network is an ESRC-funded project that ran from October 2013 - July 2018. It is currently at the end of its funding cycle and is no longer taking applications. Administrative data research will be taken forward in a new project, to be launched later in 2018.

Individual deprivation in Wales: Exploring the feasibility of constructing a measure using linked data

Research overview

At present Governments in each of the four UK regions use area based approaches as their official measures of relative deprivation. What is not known, is the extent to which these area-based measures reflect the conditions of people living within each area. For example, the fact that an area suffers from multiple deprivation does not necessarily mean that all individuals living in the area will suffer multiple types of deprivation or any deprivation at all. 

Shifting the focus of deprivation from areas to individuals will make it easier to determine the nature and distribution of deprivation, and also overcome some of the failings of area based measures, particularly when it comes to small populations. 


As area based measures are used to distribute funding and target resources, the development of a different measure of deprivation has the potential to significantly impact policy decision making for a range of services. Using an individual measure could help in targeting resources specifically to those in the greatest need. Furthermore, though this project uses Welsh data, the principles and methodology for generating an individual measure could be adopted by other UK Governments, thereby impacting policymaking not only for Wales but for the UK.

This project has international importance as it will be one of the first major documented attempts to generate an individual deprivation measure using administrative data – with the majority of individual measures to date drawing on survey data. 

Government departments 

Department for Work and Pensions, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, Valuation Office Agency, SAIL

Date approved: August 2016

Lead researcher

Ian Thomas, ADRC-Wales

Page last updated: 24/10/2017