November 18, 2016 | Featured, News


New CUNY Study Shows Mixed Progress on Equality in New York City

Citywide Inequality Levels Remained Steady, With Positive and Negative Results Across Areas

New York, NY – A new report released by the Equality Indicators, a project of the City University of New York Institute for State and Local Governance (ISLG) with funding from The Rockefeller Foundation, found that inequality has changed very little over the past year, demonstrating the difficulty in combating enmeshed disparities in a city like New York.

“Inequality affects New Yorkers in nearly every aspect of daily life—from housing and income to transportation and senior citizen care,” said Victoria Lawson, Project Director of the Equality Indicators. “Our data highlights the real challenges facing this city across racial and ethnic groups in order to inspire comprehensive solutions. Too many people are vulnerable to experiencing inequality, and we hope to help create systemic change to make New York City a place where everyone can thrive.”

With an overall score of 46.01 out of a possible 100, the study finds that disadvantaged groups—women, racial and ethnic minorities, non-citizens, those with disabilities, etc.—remain almost twice as likely to experience negative outcomes in these fundamental areas of life, compared to those not disadvantaged. Last year had similar findings and a similar overall score, at 45.45.

“The Equality Indicators take the complex, multiple dimensions of inequality and break them down into specific indicators that make progress toward greater equality not just measureable but also achievable,” said Michael Jacobson, Executive Director of ISLG. “By highlighting where improvements have occurred and where more progress is still needed, we are creating an approach for community stakeholders and policymakers at all levels to work together to effect real change.”

The study looked at inequality in New York City across six themes: Economy, Education, Health, Housing, Justice, and Services. Of the six themes studied for the report, Health had the lowest score, which indicates the highest level of inequality. Services—such as access to transportation, Internet, and parks—had the highest score, which indicates the least amount of inequality among the six themes. The biggest improvements were made in Arts and Culture and Essential Needs and Services, which experienced increases of 22.0 points and 16.5 points, respectively. The biggest declines were in Fairness of the Justice System and Employment, which both experienced a decrease of 8.5 points from 2015.

The report uncovered a wide array of insights into inequality in New York City, including:

  • African Americans are over four times more likely to be arrested for misdemeanors than their white and Asian counterparts, but arrests rates across all racial and ethnic groups are decreasing
  • Location-based disparities in access to public libraries were greatly reduced, and individuals in all five boroughs now have access to library resources—including free Internet—six days a week
  • Unemployment rates increased for individuals with disabilities, yet they decreased considerably among African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians
  • Men are twice as likely to be business owners than women

An additional component of the report is a public survey of 3,003 New Yorkers on what they believe to be the number one inequality issue currently facing the city. Nearly one-quarter of respondents cited Economic/Income inequality as the biggest issue, with Racism/Racial Inequality (16.6%) and Housing/Homelessness (14.8%) following. Police/Policing (8.4%) and Educational Inequality (8.1%) were also cited often.

For more information on Equality Indicators, please visit equalityindicators.org. You can also download an executive summary or the full 2016 report.

About the Equality Indicators

The Equality Indicators are a project of the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance (ISLG). ISLG’s mission is to bridge the gap between researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to address the challenges and opportunities confronting government. Our expertise includes data analysis for a wide array of purposes—including cost-benefit analysis, performance evaluation, and the development of performance indicators—and fiscal management for both short- and long-term planning. We focus on government at the state and local levels, working both nationally and internationally, because we believe cities and states are ideal laboratories for developing new approaches to longstanding social problems. For more information, please visit www.equalityindicators.org.