Testing the Validity of the Ontario Deprivation Index
Richard Matern, Michael Mendelson and Michael Oliphant, December 2009

Using an empirical methodology based on a series of surveys and focus groups, Daily Bread Food Bank and the Caledon Institute of Social Policy have developed a deprivation index for Ontario.  A ‘deprivation index’ is a list of items which are widely seen as necessary for a household to have a standard of living above the poverty level.  Almost all households not in poverty will have all these items, but households in poverty are likely to find some of them unaffordable.  By asking whether a household can afford all the items on the list, we can identify those that are poor.  The index should therefore contain those items that distinguish the poor from the non-poor in the prevailing social and economic conditions.


This paper is a preliminary test of the validity of the Ontario Deprivation Index using the results of a Statistics Canada survey of 10,000 Ontario households.  We look at the performance of the index against 6 variables: income, education, employment status, immigration, family type and housing tenure.  A similar method for testing the validity of the new Irish deprivation index was also used, although in this paper we are presenting only the most basic tests.  Based on this early analysis, the Ontario Deprivation Index fully meets the tests of validity in relation to these variables.

ISBN - 1-55382-420-2

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