Social Indicators Research

, Volume 132, Issue 3, pp 993–1022 | Cite as

A New Look at Inequality: Introducing and Testing a Cross-Sectional Equality Measurement Framework in New York City

  • Besiki L. Kutateladze
  • Victoria Z. Lawson


Inequality is a characteristic of societies worldwide, and many groups face disparities across a range of domains from economy to health to justice. While inequality is a complex problem in which many of these domains are interconnected, most research examines only one area, or at most the effect of one area on another. This paper details an innovative approach to studying inequality using an indicators methodology. The Equality Indicators are comprised of 96 measures of inequality and how it changes annually across six themes: Economy, Education, Health, Housing, Justice, and Services. It compares the experiences of those most likely to be adversely affected by inequalities to those of less disadvantaged groups. Here, we detail the development of the tool, its structure, data sources, and scoring system, followed by baseline findings from New York City, where we combined administrative and secondary public survey data with the data from a new public survey conducted for this study. We found substantial inequalities across all six themes, although they were most pronounced in Health and Justice. While we are not able to make direct comparisons of indicators in a given year, the intention of the tool is to track change over time; in future years we will be able to compare change or lack thereof across indicators and domains. The current findings across areas, however, suggest that New York City is characterized by vast inequalities, where disadvantaged groups are twice as likely as others to experience negative outcomes in fundamental areas of life.


Equality Indicators Disadvantaged groups Measurement 

Supplementary material

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CUNY Institute for State and Local GovernanceNew YorkUSA

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