[Excerpt] During this time of rapid demographic and economic change, new ways of measuring social progress are helping make sense of the community and highlight areas of strength to build on and challenges that need resources.
Called social indicators, these measures provide a comprehensive picture of the social health of the community with data that shows how people are doing in their day-to-day lives. In contrast to the macroeconomic indicators that saturate the media like the stock market, inflation, and housing sales, social indicators measure wellbeing and quality of life more broadly. They include measures of health, education, inequality, safety, and civic involvement. By highlighting areas where targeted investment could make a difference, they provide data that empower people and policy makers to take action.
Recently, social indicators about income inequality have provided a different story to the news of an economic recovery that is narrowly focused on rising stock market values. Now at unprecedented levels, income inequality has over the past several decades dramatically increased the segregation of people into either well-off neighborhoods or poor neighborhoods, resulting in an unequal access to quality public education and social mobility. In the recent Datahaven publication, “Greater New Haven Community Index 2013,” Greater New Haven is shown to be among the most unequal regions in the country, ranking 301 out of 366 metropolitan regions.