Before you start

Quality of life

Quality of life is a broad multidimensional concept that usually includes subjective evaluations of both positive and negative aspects of life.

Quality of life is traditionally difficult to define as it can mean different things to individuals. Despite this there are some common themes which permeate most definitions of quality of life.

Key indicators of quality of life include:

  • health
  • employment
  • education
  • housing
  • schools
  • the neighbourhood

Aspects of culture, values, and spirituality are also part of quality of life, assessing these more individual aspects often makes the assessment of quality of life more complex.


Deprivation is often used as an inverse measure of quality of life. Indices of Deprivation, such as the English Indices of Multiple Deprivation, IMD, WIMD in Wales and SIMD in Scotland. These use statistics from the Census and other secondary sources to assign a score. Neighbourhood areas (Census Lower Layer Super Output Areas, LSOAs) are then ranked based on this score.

IMD 2015 infographic by DGLG / Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

The English IMD uses 37 indicators of deprivation from 7 domains of deprivation. These include data from census, HMRC, police statistics and other sources. This means that IMD are updated more frequently than census data – typically every 3-5 years.

A local example

Questions will often focus on comparing two or more areas with different levels of deprivation – investigations such as this involve use of Census data as a significant portion of the primary data – it is therefore worthwhile using Census Geographies in planning your primary data collection. Find out more about the UK Census Geographies

Looking at the IMD 2015 data for central Shropshire it is possible to identify contrasting areas. Here we have selected Minsterley and Pontesbury as two villages with different levels of deprivation. The IMD Data Explorer his allows us to identify the LSOA’s which include those villages to study.

IMD 2015 for a rural area in central Shropshire by DCLG / Open Database Licence

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