The Atlas of Socioeconomic Deprivation in New Zealand

The Health Department have produced a series of maps showing the geographical distribution of lack of wealth in NZ. Or, if you’re a Tory, the distribution of envy. No real surprises.

For a quick squiz, the Herald has some of the maps online. The actual maps (1.6–2.0 Mb for NZ/NI/SI) are here.

The “Atlas” was based on Statistics New Zealand’s index of socioeconomic deprivation. According to the Department of Health, the index “was used to monitor inequalities across a range of health indicators, including hospitalisations and mortality. It was also widely used to assess DHB funding. In research, the index was a tool to determine the relationship between socioeconomic status and health outcomes.” (Presumably it still is, and the DoH simply can’t write a press release.)

I’m inclined to ask how you could use the maps for the latter purpose when many of the independent variables are linked (e.g., socio-economic status and ethnicity). Multivariate analysis is required to estimate the independent effects of these variables.

Update: MacDoc raises some important points in his comments. A podcast of a RNZ interview with Peter Crampton, Dean, University of Otago Wellington campus on the Atlas is available.

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2 Responses to “The Atlas of Socioeconomic Deprivation in New Zealand”

  1. MacDoctor Says:

    INIT SARC Wow, all the deprivation is in rural and isolated areas! Amazing! END SARC.

    I didn’t realize that the department of health came under the aegis of the ministry of blooming obvious….

    MacDoc, I did warn that there aren’t any surprises. I suspect that there will be other maps produced that show the incidence of, say, asthma, and these can be easily compared to the deprivation series. Also, I never thought of Mt Roskill as “rural and isolated.”

  2. MacDoctor Says:

    Sorry, JP, got carried away with sledgehammer wit there. 🙂

    The point is that there is no real medical use for this map, despite it’s being financed by the Health budget. Its only use will be to move the rapidly thinning pool of health money from one area to another. Worse, it will be used to target health initiatives on the grounds of social deprivation rather than health need (though I grant that these are sometimes synonymous).

    We can probably determine the incidence of asthma and compare it to social deprivation. But it is still asthma that the health service is treating, not deprivation. Is the asthma sufferer in Ponsonby somehow less deserving of health funding than those in Mount Roskill? Is “rich prick” asthma somehow less expensive to treat than “poor person” asthma? And before you start to tell me all the problems of low socioeconomic areas like poorly heated, damp houses and overcrowding, let me emphasize that raising the standard of living is not the function of the health budget.

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