Measures of multigroup segregation

Sean F. Reardon, Glenn Firebaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

539 Scopus citations


In this paper we derive and evaluate measures of multigroup segregation. After describing four ways to conceptualize the measurement of multigroup segregation-as the disproportionality in group (e.g., race) proportions across organizational units (e.g., schools or census tracts), as the strength of association between nominal variables indexing group and organizational unit membership, as the ratio of between-unit diversity to total diversity, and as the weighted average of two-group segregation indices-we derive six muItigroup segregation indices: a dissimilarity index (D), a Gini index (G), an information theory index (H), a squared coefficient of variation index (C), a relative diversity index (R), and a normalized exposure index (P). We evaluate these six indices against a set of seven desirable properties of segregation indices. We conclude that the information theory index H is the most conceptually and mathematically satisfactory index, since it alone obeys the principle of transfers in the multigroup case. Moreover, H is the only multigroup index that can be decomposed into a sum of between- and within-group components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-67
Number of pages35
JournalSociological methodology
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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