The Measurement of Intergroup Income Inequality: A Conceptual Review Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper reviews conceptual differences between popular measures of relative intergroup income inequality. To organize our review we introduce a set of guidelines identifying desirable characteristics of measures of relative intergroup income inequality and then evaluate different measures in terms of these guidelines. Significantly, we find that many popular measures (e.g., the ratio of median incomes, the Index of Dissimilarity, and the Index of Net Difference) have one or more logical weaknesses which prevent them from fully satisfying our guidelines. On the other hand, comparisons of group mean incomes (e.g., the ratio of mean incomes or the difference of the means for the logarithm of income) satisfy most of the guidelines we set forth. Additionally, we introduce a new measure of relative intergroup income inequality, the Index of Average Relative Advantage, which meets our guidelines and has an appealing interpretation. 1983 The University of North Carolina Press.

published proceedings

  • Social Forces

author list (cited authors)

  • Fossett, M., & South, S. J.

citation count

  • 19

complete list of authors

  • Fossett, M||South, SJ

publication date

  • March 1983