Social Inequality Has Decreased Slightly Since 2015, CUNY Study Finds

CUNY Queensborough College in Bayside. Photo courtesy CUNY.

CUNY Queensborough College in Bayside. Photo courtesy CUNY.

By Victoria Merlino

While measures of inequality have improved slightly since 2015 in New York City, disadvantaged social groups still face major roadblocks, according to a new report from Equality Indicators, a City University of New York Institute for State and Local Governance project.

The study measured and scored inequality in the city through six lenses: economy, education, health, housing, justice and services. With the total score at 48.52, the researchers found disadvantaged groups like minorities, women, non-citizens and those with disabilities were twice as likely to suffer negative outcomes as those who were not disadvantaged.

The score, however, increased from 2015’s score of 45.07, meaning that the city made some progress toward equality.

“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, in a statement.

“Still, the data also indicates the seemingly intractable nature of inequality facing so many disadvantaged 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.”

The study found that the indicators of education and services — such as access to transportation, internet and parks — saw the largest increases from the previous year, meaning that disadvantaged social groups and privileged groups became more equal in those areas. The indicators of health and justice also experienced positive changes, while housing and the economy remained largely unchanged.

According to the study, the percentage of people who thought the government did not reflect the city’s diversity increased.

The researchers also surveyed 3,100 New Yorkers on what they consider the top inequality issue in the city, finding that affordable housing and income inequality or unemployment ranked highest.