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Further Development of the Poor Parenting Environments Index: a feasibility study


This study, commissioned by the Home Office, working in collaboration with the NRU [ODPM] and the DfES, was a collaboration between the Policy Research Bureau (PRB) and colleagues at Newcastle, Oxford and London Universities. The research built upon an earlier study by PRB, which created the PPE-Index (Poor Parenting Environments Index) in 1997 as part of a major study of parenting in poor environments for the Department of Health (Ghate and Hazel, 2002). The study was part of the ‘Supporting Parents’ research initiative.

The PPE-Index was developed using data from the Census 1991 to provide a means of identifying the ‘worst’ local areas of deprivation in Britain. The Index measured socio-demographic aspects of the environment that are known to be most challenging for parents. The aim of the feasibility study was to explore the potential for updating and adapting the PPE-Index in order to provide a national indicator, at small area level, of the quality of parenting environments across the UK (i.e. the quality of an area as a place to bring up children, in the sense of supporting a specified range of positive outcomes for children and young people). In the light of far-reaching changes in family support policy and practice nationally since the PPE-Index was first developed, the objectives of the feasibility study were to ascertain whether there was a need for further development of the Index, and to determine the technical feasibility of different development options. A revised Index could have a number of uses both for research, policy and service planning, including providing a way to identify areas in which family support services might be most cost-effectively targeted.

What did the research involve?

The feasibility study involved several elements:

  • A review and validation of the general methodology of the PPE-Index from a technical perspective
  • A review of literature on parenting (and the key factors that influence it in the light of recent developments in this field) to determine if other factors than those presently included should be added
  • A review of the feasibility of adding new variables to the Index by assessing the availability and suitability of other data sources in addition to the Census 2001
  • Drafting of an interim discussion paper, discussed at a seminar for external experts to seek views and feedback
  • Drafting of a final paper setting out conclusions of this stage and giving recommendations for future work


The project began in 2004 and was completed in 2005.

Final Product of the research

The final report is available on the PRB website:
Ghate D., Dinos S., Katz, I., Katz D., and Coombes M (2005) Further Development of the Poor Parenting Environments Index: a feasibility study London: Policy Research Bureau

See Publications for further details.

Last updated February 2008