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CASA Working Paper 145

1 August 2008


Social Deprivation and Digital Exclusion in England

Issues of digital exclusion are now increasingly considered alongside those of material deprivation when formulating interventions in neighbourhood renewal and other local policy interventions in health, policing and education. In this context, this paper develops a cross classification of material deprivation and lack of digital engagement, at a far more spatially disaggregate level than has previously been attempted. This is achieved my matching the well known 2004 Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) with a unique nationwide geodemographic classification of access and use of new information and communications technologies (ICTs), aggregated to the unit postcode scale.

This 'E-Society' classification makes it possible for the first time to identify small areas that are 'digitally unengaged', and our cross classification allows us to focus upon the extent to which the 2004 summary measure of material deprivation in England coincides with such lack of engagement. The results of the cross classification suggest that lack of digital engagement and material deprivation are linked, with high levels of material deprivation generally associated with low levels of engagement with ICTs and vice versa. However, some neighbourhoods are 'digitally unengaged' but not materially deprived, and we investigate the extent to which this outcome may be linked to factors such as lack of confidence, skills or motivation. Our analysis suggests that approximately 5.61 million people in England are both materially deprived and digitally unengaged. As with material deprivation, there are distinctive regional and local geographies to digital unengagement that have implications for digital policy implementation.

This working paper is available as a PDF. The file size is 688.19KB.

Authors: Paul Longley, Alex Singleton

Publication Date: 1/8/2008

Download working paper No. 145.