To Measure is to Know? A Comparable Analysis of Gender Indices

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In this paper I present a comparative analysis of five cross-country composite gender indices. Although there is a relatively high correlation between the indices the overlap of underlying indicators is low. Country rankings both at the top and at the bottom have parallels but are quite distinct. The differences are explained in two ways: methodologically and theoretically. The methodological differences concern in particular weights, capping and aggregation. The Capability Approach helps to explain the different focus of each index by distinguishing between four stages of human development, which include distinct types of indicators. The substantial differences that exist between the gender indices require a cautious selection between these for research and policy analysis. This is shown in a few examples with policy variables. Finally, I present a set of three decision trees, which enables an informed choice between the indices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-372
Number of pages34
JournalReview of Social Economy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2013


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