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  • Social inequality is lack of equality
  • economic shortcoming is lack of perfect economy

Therefore I decided to use the word "deficiency" to refer to these problems. Is it correct and natural?

Social inequality and economic shortcomings are the most dangerous deficiencies in society.

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    It isn't horribly wrong, but it isn't great either. Deficiency means "a lack of something", but how is "an economic shortcoming" a lack of something?
    – stangdon
    Dec 29, 2021 at 14:00

2 Answers 2

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I'd rather use shortfalls or even better flaws (to prevent the repetition of short) instead of deficiency

Social inequality and economic shortcomings are the most dangerous flaws in society.

deficiency in general points to a lack or shortage, often related with health.

see also from wordnik dictionary:

  • The quality or condition of being deficient; incompleteness or inadequacy.
  • A lack or shortage, especially of something essential to health.
  • The state of being deficient; a lack or failing; a falling short; incompleteness, as of intelligence, attainments, or
    performance.
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Anything less than ideal can be reworded to be a "lack" of whatever would make it ideal.

This flawed diamond has a lack of perfection for use in jewellery.
This 9% alcohol beer has a lack of lightness.
Children trying to enter the workforce have a lack of age.

And so on. It doesn't make sense to describe flawed diamonds, strong beer and children themselves as "deficiencies" because we don't normally think of these problems as deficiencies. Bad diamonds are thought of as including flaws, strong beer as having too much alcohol, and children as simply being young.

Similarly, we think of social inequality as a simple state of not being equal, rather than some "quantity" of equality being lacking, and an economic shortcoming is considered a flaw in structure, rather than a lack of perfection.

"Deficiency" is only naturally applied to contexts where we naturally think of those things as a "lack".

People who never go outside are deficient in vitamin D.
This company has a staffing deficiency.
Mario Mendoza was famously deficient in batting talent.

We think of unhealthy organisms as lacking nutrients, and understaffed companies as lacking staff, and bad athletes as lacking talent.

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