Is the SIMD appropriate for measuring deprivation in rural areas?
The SIMD is good at doing what it is designed to do, i.e. to identify small area concentrations of multiple deprivation across Scotland in a fair way. The indicators which make up the SIMD are chosen because they are measures of deprivation regardless of where a person lives.
However, the issue for rural areas is that poverty and deprivation are more spatially dispersed than in urban areas.
Of the 15% most deprived datazones in SIMD 2012, around 91% of them are in urban areas and just over 2% are in rural areas. But this does not mean that there is no deprivation in rural areas.
How does the SIMD take account of issues in rural areas?
The SIMD does take rural issues into account and some specific advancements have been made to the SIMD to address issues raised by rural interests in the past. These include:
- the use of small geographical units of measurement (datazones) to enable pockets of deprivation to be identified (pockets which may have been masked by analysis using larger geographies such as wards or postcode sectors)
- the inclusion of a domain on geographic access to services (including drive and public transport times)
- averaging unemployment counts to take account of seasonal fluctuations in employment patterns (seasonality tends to affect rural areas more than urban areas).
Techniques which may help to identify individual level deprivation in rural areas include examining individual domains of SIMD (e.g. Income and Employment) to identify the number of people experiencing this particular type of deprivation in a given area. These options are explored in more detail in the guidance paper on using SIMD for rural analysis.