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December 14, 2017 | Featured, News

Overall Citywide Level of Inequality Improved Slightly, 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 improved slightly overall over the past year, with both positive and negative results in specific areas, demonstrating the difficulty in combating enmeshed disparities in a city like New York.

“With a few years of data, we can now start to see the beginning of trends and where some policies may be making impacts. And we are starting to see a few specific areas where that has happened,” said Victoria Lawson, project director of the Equality Indicators. “Still, the data also indicates the seemingly intractable nature of inequality facing so many vulnerable people in the city. Our hope is that over time, policymakers and stakeholders across the city are able to use these measures help to create systemic change in all of New York City, making it a place where everyone can thrive.”

With an overall score of 47.75 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 fundamental areas of life, compared to those not disadvantaged. Last year had similar findings and a similar overall score, at 46.01, while the 2015 baseline score was 45.07.

“Inequality is complex and contextual, which can make it difficult to measure and, therefore, to address. But the Equality Indicators takes a thoughtful approach to this, breaking the larger issue down into a number of areas and topics 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 largest positive change from last year, but remained the lowest scoring theme, which indicates the highest level of inequality. Services—such as access to transportation, Internet, and parks—again had the highest score, which indicates the least amount of inequality among the six themes. Overall, there were small increases in scores for Education, Services, and Housing, while Economy saw a slight decline from 2015. Justice remained largely the same.

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

  • Unemployment rates again increased for individuals with disabilities. However, they decreased for all racial and ethnic groups, albeit more for whites than for blacks.
  • The disparity between Hispanics and whites lacking health insurance was reduced. Additionally, uninsurance rates were lower for Hispanics, blacks, and Asians than baseline while the rate for whites was nearly the same as last year.
  • The divide increased between black and white residents’ perceptions of racial and ethnic diversity being represented in local government.
  • Location-based disparities in access to public libraries were greatly reduced from baseline, with all branches of the New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Borough Public Library open six days per week.

An additional component of the report is a public survey of more than 3,100 New Yorkers, which includes questions about what they believe to be the number one inequality issue currently facing the city. More than one-third of respondents cited housing/affordable housing as the biggest issue (34.8%), a jump from last year when both housing and income inequality/employment were near the top of the list. This year, income inequality/employment was cited by 18.6% of respondents as the biggest inequality problem, followed by crime/criminal justice system (12.8%), education (12.7%), and racial inequality/racism (11.2%). Gender inequality (3.8%) was also cited often, and 6.1% cited some other issue or were not sure.

For more information on Equality Indicators, please visit equalityindicators.org. You can also download the full 2017 report.

About the Equality Indicators

The Equality Indicators are a project of the Institute for State and Local Governance (ISLG), a nonpartisan research and policy institute within the City University of New York (CUNY). The Institute’s mission is to work with government and non-government organizations to improve systems to produce better results worthy of public investment and trust. We aim to advance data-driven approaches that influence policy and operations and that support work in diverse communities. In short, we help government—and organizations connected to it—do better. We focus on working with cities and states because they are ideal laboratories for developing new approaches to longstanding social problems, and are ripe with opportunities and momentum for real, sustainable change. For more information, please visit www.equalityindicators.org