How is equity measured?

Six equity populations are considered in the Equity Tracker: 

  • people of color
  • households with lower income (200% of the federal poverty line or less)
  • people with a disability
  • households with limited English proficiency
  • households with youth under 18
  • households with older adults 65 and over

Depending on data availability, each indicator in the Equity Tracker uses one of two approaches to measure equity. 

Person-based indicators directly measure the outcomes of people in each equity population (e.g., household income of people of color). They rely on the Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which include both the outcomes of interest and socio-demographic information about people. Comparing outcomes between an equity population and its counterpart can highlight disparities (e.g., comparing home ownership for households with lower income to other households).

Placed-based indicators indirectly measure people’s outcomes via the population makeup of places. The Equity Tracker uses census tract-level American Community Survey (ACS) data from the U.S. Census Bureau to determine the shares of people in the six populations considered. For each equity population, the census tracts are sorted from the lowest to the highest shares and divided in such order into quintiles, or five groups of equal size, each with 20% of the tracts. The quintile groups represent five levels of concentrations for an equal population (e.g., from low to high concentrations of people of color). For each indicator, the weighted average of census tract-level data is calculated for each level. Comparing outcomes across the five levels can reveal patterns of disparities (e.g., comparing home ownership for communities with high concentrations of people of color to those with low concentrations).

Back to Equity Tracker.