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Measuring Segregation When Hierarchy Matters


  • Hutchens, Robert M.

    () (Cornell University)


This paper considers the problem of measuring segregation when groups form a hierarchy whereby some groups have greater economic status than others. While existing measures of segregation address the case where people are unequally distributed across groups with the same economic status, concern often focuses on groups with different status, e.g., occupational segregation where women have limited access to high wage occupations. This paper first defines a class of segregation indexes that encompasses both the "same economic status" and "different economic status" case. It then proposes two methods for incorporating economic status into empirical work. One is to rank groups from highest to lowest economic status and apply the dominance criteria in Theorem 2. The other is to invoke a cardinal measure of group economic status and then compute a numerical index. Finally, a numerical index of segregation is introduced, and both methods are used to analyze U.S. occupational segregation by gender and ethnicity.

Suggested Citation

  • Hutchens, Robert M., 2012. "Measuring Segregation When Hierarchy Matters," IZA Discussion Papers 6667, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6667

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fleurbaey, Marc & Hagnere, Cyrille & Trannoy, Alain, 2003. "Welfare comparisons with bounded equivalence scales," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 110(2), pages 309-336, June.
    2. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-766, May.
    3. W. M. Gorman, 1968. "The Structure of Utility Functions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(4), pages 367-390.
    4. Bourguignon, Francois, 1989. "Family size and social utility : Income distribution dominance criteria," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 67-80, September.
    5. Hutchens, Robert, 2001. "Numerical measures of segregation: desirable properties and their implications," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 13-29, July.
    6. Jenkins, Stephen P & Lambert, Peter J, 1993. "Ranking Income Distributions When Needs Differ," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 39(4), pages 337-356, December.
    7. Ok, Efe A. & Lambert, Peter J., 1999. "On evaluating social welfare by sequential generalized Lorenz dominance," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 45-53, April.
    8. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser, 1997. "Are Ghettos Good or Bad?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 827-872.
    9. Chambaz, Christine & Maurin, Eric, 1998. "Atkinson and Bourguignon's Dominance Criteria: Extended and Applied to the Measurement of Poverty in France," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 44(4), pages 497-513, December.
    10. Foster, James E, 1994. "Normative Measurement: Is Theory Relevant?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 365-370, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carlos Gradín, 2017. "Segregation of women into low-paying occupations in the United States," WIDER Working Paper Series 089, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

    More about this item


    inequality; segregation; occupational segregation; inequality index; Lorenz dominance;

    JEL classification:

    • C43 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Index Numbers and Aggregation
    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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