We lay out alternative ways of melding measures of absolute and relative deprivation in an index of overall deprivation, exploring the choices the analyst faces in this enterprise. The indices derived are used to answer two important empirical questions. First, did overall deprivation fall in the BRICS–Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa– between the early 1990s and late 2000s, alongside the fall in absolute deprivation? Second, what is the relationship between reductions in overall deprivation and economic growth? We show that the standard portrayal of the BRICS as economic success stories as well as the emphasis placed on economic growth in the reduction of deprivation must be qualified to some extent.