Material and Social Deprivation Index


The Material and Social Deprivation Index (MSDI) was created at the end of the 1990 with the aim of measuring deprivation among Quebecers and Canadians at the small-area level.1,2 The MSDI consists of specific socioeconomic characteristics of the population living in a small area. It has often been used as a proxy (substitute) for lacking information on socioeconomic status of individuals in administrative databases. The index facilitates the documentation and identification of the presence of inequalities in health and health system use associated with inequality in access to material and social resources. In a larger perspective, the MSDI has been used for decision-making and public resource allocation in regions and local communities.


The MSDI has the aim of characterizing and highlighting the deprivation at the small area level. This information is useful for regional resource planning in the health and social services system. More specifically, the MSDI can be used for research on social inequalities in health, monitoring of their evolution, the elaboration of public policies and programs, for resource allocation and the evaluation of services.


The MSDI is composed of two dimensions. The material deprivation involves deprivation of the goods and conveniences that are part of modern life, such as adequate housing, possession of a car, access to high speed internet, or a neighbourhood with recreational areas. This deprivation marks the consequences of lack of material resources associated with low education, insecure job situation and insufficient income. Social deprivation refers to a fragile social network, starting with the family and encompassing the community. It is characterized by individuals living alone, being a lone parent and being separated, divorced or widowed. The MSDI groups six indicators chosen for their relationship with health and either one of the two forms of deprivation.3,4,5

Using the MSDI

The table below contains the different Census years (1991, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016). Click on a version to download all files needed to use the MSDI.

2016 Canada 2016 (.zip)
2011 Canada 2011 (.zip)
2006 Canada 2006 (.zip)
2001 Canada 2001 (.zip)
1996 Canada 1996 (.zip)
1991 Canada 1991 (.zip)

For a better understanding and use of the MSDI, please refer to The Material and Social Deprivation Index: a summary (to be published) or refer to one of the methodological documents.

For a list of papers having used the MSDI, published outside of INSPQ, view our list of papers.

If you have comments or questions about the MSDI or if you would like to be added to our mailing list with updates on the MSDI, please send us a short email ( with the subject « Material and social deprivation index ». You can also proceed in this way if you have published a paper, report, or thesis or any work you do with the MSDI and would like us to add it to our list of papers.

Support, data or additional information can be requested by completing our online form.

How to cite the index : Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ). Index of material and social deprivation compiled by the Bureau d'information et d'études en santé des populations (BIESP) from 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016 Canadian Census data. []

A survey to better serve the users of the index of material and social deprivation

In order to better understand the use of the MSDI and the user satisfaction, we created a survey in March 2018 for the index users in Canada. The results revealed the relevance of this tool to measure deprivation at the small area level and the need to rethink the index’s composition and adequacy for sociosanitary regions with varying characteristics.


  1. Pampalon R, Hamel D, Gamache P, Raymond G. A deprivation index for health planning in Canada. Chronic Dis Can. 2009;29(4).
  2. Pampalon R, Hamel D, Gamache P, Philibert MD, Raymond G, Simpson A. An area-based material and social deprivation index for public health in Québec and Canada. Can J Public Health. 2012;103(8):17‑22.
  3. Gamache, Philippe, et Denis Hamel. The Challenges of Updating the Deprivation Index with Data from the 2011 Census and the National Household Survey (NHS). Montréal, Québec: Institut national de santé publique du Québec; 2017 7 p.
  4. Pampalon R, Gamache P, Hamel D. The Québec Index of Material and Social Deprivation: Methodological Follow-up, 1991 through 2006. Montréal, Québec: Institut de santé publique du Québec; 2011 15 p.
  5. Pampalon R, Hamel D, Raymond G. Indice de défavorisation pour l’étude de la santé et du bien-être au Québec - Mise à jour 2001. Montréal, Québec: Institut de santé publique du Québec; 2004, 12 pages.

See also

Other interesting websites


Last updated: November 2019