Social Indicators Research

, Volume 137, Issue 1, pp 257–280 | Cite as

Segregation and Social Welfare: A Methodological Proposal with an Application to the U.S.

  • Coral del Río
  • Olga Alonso-Villar


The aim of this paper is twofold: (a) to define a new concept, the welfare loss that a society experiences due to the segregation of the demographic groups that comprise it and (b) to propose measures that quantify this phenomenon satisfying a set of normative properties. In aggregating the well-being losses (gains) of the groups derived for being concentrated in low-status (high-status) organizational units, this paper embraces the distributive approach adopted in the literature on economic deprivation and poverty. The advantages of these measures are shown by exploring the welfare losses that the United States has experienced from 1980 to 2012 due to occupational segregation by both gender and race/ethnicity. Our analysis shows that our measures reveal certain aspects of the phenomenon that do not emerge when using overall segregation measures. Thus, for example, while nothing seems to have changed in U.S. labor market in the last decade according to some well-known overall segregation measures, the social welfare loss due to segregation has actually increased.


Segregation measures Social welfare Occupations Wages Gender/race 

JEL Classification

D63 J15 J71 Z13 



Funding was provided by the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad (Grant No. ECO2014-52616-R), the Agencia Estatal de Investigación and Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (Grant No. ECO2016-76506-C4-2-R), and Xunta de Galicia (Grant No. GRC 2015/014). We also want to thank Francesco Andreoli and the reviewers for helpful comments).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Economía Aplicada, Facultade de CC. EconómicasUniversidade de Vigo (ECOSOT-ECOBAS and EQUALITAS)VigoSpain

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