The diffusion of deprivation indices and their application in a wide variety of contexts raises a number of conceptual and methodological issues, particularly in relation to the analysis of change over time. We seek to address these issues by developing an aggregate-level theoretical approach which can guide the construction of a statistical model for enumeration districts in Ireland using five waves of census data (1991, 1996, 2002, 2006, 2011). We use a powerful and flexible family of statistical models—multiple-group mean and covariance structural equation modelling—to obtain comparable estimates of affluence and deprivation for each wave of data. The scores for the three component dimensions—referred to as demographic vitality, social class composition, and labour market situation—are mapped using GIS techniques, together with an overall measure of affluence and deprivation. Using the maps and other results we provide an original discussion of the sociospatial impacts of the economic boom in Ireland between 1996 and 2006, and the subsequent downturn. We highlight the importance of population flows and housing-market dynamics in understanding the nature of each phase and when evaluating the sustainability of economic growth.
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