Measuring Justice

I haven’t read it all yet, but this report( SGI11_Social_Justice_OECD ) on OECD nations is intriguing, largely because it attempts to establish a “social justice index”– the kind of metric that most policy think tanks in the US would never even consider. In fact, the term “social justice” is red meat to the political right, for whom it signifies something like communism. Such distortions ought not to detain us, however. The larger issue concerns the fact that the way we conceive of problems (objects of study) shapes the solutions we arrive at. As one of my teachers once said, “To ask the question is to answer it.”

Here is the definition of social justice given in the study:

And here is one of the graphs from the study.

The social justice index created by the study’s authors bears some resemblance to the Gini Co-efficient, which measures income inequality. According to the CIA factbook, the US is the 39th most unequal society in the world, slightly less unequal than Bulgaria and a bet more equal than Cameroon.