Socioeconomic deprivation profile

This section provides information on socioeconomic deprivation, using the New Zealand Index of Deprivation (NZDep).

Higher levels of socioeconomic deprivation are associated with worse health.  There are also connections between socioeconomic deprivation and environmental risk.

New Zealand Index of Deprivation (NZDep)

The NZDep is an area-based measure of socioeconomic deprivation in New Zealand [1]. It measures the level of deprivation for people in each small area. It is based on nine Census variables.

NZDep can be displayed as deciles or quintiles. Each NZDep quintile contains about 20 percent of small areas (meshblocks or census area units) in New Zealand.

  • Quintile 1 represents people living in the least deprived 20 percent of small areas
  • Quintile 5 represents people living in the most deprived 20 percent of small areas.

Figure 1: Map of socioeconomic deprivation (NZDep2013), by census area unit, 2013

People in more deprived areas are more vulnerable to environmental risks

In general, people who live in more deprived areas (for example, NZDep2013 quintile 5) are more susceptible to environmental risks.  They may also have less capacity to cope with the effects of environmental risks, and fewer resources to protect themselves from environmental hazards.

  • They may not be able to afford good quality housing or a house large enough for their family.
  • They may not be able to afford to heat their house adequately or insulate it.
  • They may not have money to repaint their house before it gets in poor condition, exposing them to lead paint dust.
  • They may not have a car to drive to health care services, or move away from a flood risk.
  • They may live closer to environmental hazards such as industrial sites or main transport routes.
  • They may work and live with much higher levels of environmental stress (such as noise, overcrowding, and less security), which may put them at higher risk of psycho-social health problems.
  • They may be more likely to have access to poor quality drinking-water supplies [2].

Information about the data

The New Zealand Index of Deprivation 2013 (NZDep2013) is based on the following Census variables [1]:

  • People aged under 65 years with no access to the Internet at home
  • People aged 18–64 years receiving a means-tested benefit
  • People living in equivalised households with income below an income threshold
  • People aged 18–64 years who are unemployed
  • People aged 18–64 years without any qualifications
  • People not living in their own home
  • People aged under 65 years living in a single-parent family
  • People living in equivalised households below a bedroom occupancy threshold
  • People with no access to a car.

Note: Equivalisation is a method used to control for household composition.


1. Atkinson J, Salmond C, Crampton P. 2014. NZDep2013 Index of Deprivation. Wellington: Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington. Available online:

2. Hales S, Black W, Skelly C, Salmond C, Weinstein P. 2003. Social deprivation and the public health risks of community drinking water supplies in New Zealand. J Epidemiol Community Health 57:581-583. doi: 10.1136/jech.57.8.581

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