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On Measuring Segregation in a Multigroup Context

Working Paper 2020-561


There has been little discussion about the consequences of using standardized, rather than unstandardized, segregation measures when comparing societies with different demographic compositions. This paper explores standardization in a multigroup setting through an analytical framework that offers a clear distinction between the measurement of overall and local segregation, embeds existing indices within this framework, and addresses gaps in previous research. The local approach developed here allows us to focus on the principle of transfers used in the measurement of overall segregation from a new angle and brings analytical support to the interpretation of the components of standardized overall measures as the segregation levels of the groups involved. This approach also helps clarify the debate around the measurement of school segregation since the distinction between local and overall measures, together with standardization, is key to understanding the relationship between the different proposals. This research also gives formal support to empirical strategies that compare the distribution of a minority group with that of the remaining population since they can be viewed as standardized local segregation measures satisfying basic properties.

Authors: Coral Del Río, Olga Alonso-Villar.

Keywords: Multigroup segregation, standardized segregation indices, local segregation curves, local segregation indices
JEL: D63, J15, J16, J71