• Our thinking about Equality is largely informed by the non-discrimination clauses embedded in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Drawing on this declaration, “equality” is defined as follows:

    Everyone has the same economic, educational, health, housing, justice, and service outcomes regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender, single parenthood, age, immigration status, criminal record, place of residence, and other characteristics.

    The purpose of the Equality Indicators is to measure change, either toward or away from equality, in six areas: economy, education, health, housing, justice, and services. Using our data, we connect measures of inequality in different aspects of city life to policy recommendations that can improve outcomes for disadvantaged residents of the city.

  • Why Indicators?

    Indicators are a measure of change over time. They are increasingly used to evaluate projects, programs, and initiatives on a range of issues. Indicators rely on various data (e.g., administrative data, public survey data, expert focus group data, systematic observation data), and in fact good indicator tools combine multiple data sources to address a concern that no single data source, by itself, is fully reliable. Indicators can be quantitative or qualitative. Quantitative indicators are expressed in numbers based on counts, percentages, rates or ratios. Qualitative indicators are described as narratives.

    Equality indicators are one of the types of social indicators (see Social Indicators versus Equality Indicators). They are concerned with the comparison of two groups, typically most and least disadvantaged, on a given issue. As the gap between these two extreme groups decreases, equality increases.

  • Outcomes versus Opportunities

    The Equality Indicators focuses on outcomes rather than opportunities based on the recognition that equal opportunities do not always lead to equal outcomes. For example, building a new hospital in a poor neighborhood may increase access to medical care but does not guarantee better public health outcomes for local residents. It is clearly aspirational as a definition of “equality,” since achieving equal outcomes in all areas of life for all groups is impossible. Instead, the indicators measure proximity to that utopian state: the closer a city gets to it, the better.

  • Social Indicators versus Equality Indicators

    Social Indicators are measures of social development which do not explicitly compare one group to another. Social indicators provide important and familiar metrics (e.g., percent of people unemployed) and are useful entry points for understanding progress.

    Equality indicators go beyond these surface statistics to provide comparative data about subgroups, particularly those who face discrimination compared to those who do not.

    For example

    • Social Indicator: unemployment rate
    • Equality Indicator: ratio between the unemployment rates of (a) people with a disability and (b) people without disability