Introducing the Mind-the-Gap Index: A tool to understand urban spatial inequality

Where people live exerts a strong influence on multiple aspects of their well-being, including their access to economic opportunities, education, health and other services and to their security, as well as other goals envisioned in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In a world with high and growing levels of urbanization, policy makers are increasingly aware that the future of inequality depends largely on what happens in cities. There is also concern that rising spatial inequality can lead to social unrest, rioting, increased crime, and erode trust among separated societal groups.

(Photo: Philippe Collard/Unsplash)

The World Bank estimates that half of the area that will be urbanized by 2050 has not yet been built, which implies major opportunities for the policies and decisions affecting cities to shape the world we live in.

First, this paper synthesizes several research papers regarding what we already know–drawing on recent research from UNDESA and others–to outline the extent of spatial disparities, the ways that spatial inequality shapes today’s cities, and the key factors driving spatial disparities. Additionally, the paper introduces a new index designed to capture key dimensions of spatial inequality, along with analysis of results from three pilot applications in Addis Ababa, Jakarta, and Mexico City which highlights the importance of granular and up-to-date data, as well as the accumulating nature of disadvantage in poor neighborhoods.

[ Download the full paper: Introducing the Mind-the-Gap- Index: A tool to understand urban spatial inequality ]

This policy paper is part of the Pathfinders Grand Challenge on Inequality & Exclusion. More information about this initiative can be found here.

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May 07, 2021
Jeni Klugman, Matthew Moore