Goal: A more equitable distribution of the positive and negative products of civilization among New Jerseyans, from north to south, urban and rural, men and women, and among all classes and races. This includes fair access to healthy environments, good healthcare, quality education, governmental decision-making, economic opportunity, and natural and cultural amenities.
Equity is one of the fundamental values that define the social component of sustainability as it is understood in New Jersey and many other places. For many people, a society that does not provide equal opportunity to all social groups is not one that we want to sustain. Greater equity would not only benefit those who are now disadvantaged; it would benefit everyone in the society. Unequal access to education, jobs, and other routes to prosperity and freedom of choice contribute to crime, homelessness, excess dependence on public services, social tension, and an increasingly polarized society.
What indicators came out of the Sustainable State process, and how are we doing?
Pay equity across racial and ethnic lines appears to have worsened for both women and minorities.
Legislators’ reflection of the racial, ethnic, and gender composition of the population has largely improved over the past thirty years, although the position of women has worsened recently.
Racial disparities in infant mortality have remained constant, although all infant mortality rates have declined over the past decade.
What might we add to future indicator reports?
Data on the income distribution in New Jersey are difficult to come by, yet they are fundamental to track our progress towards a more equitable society. Detailed state-level breakdowns of income by household for intercensal years would make it easier to track equity over time. We also need a better understanding of inequity, if we are to solve the problems; why do race or ethnic background correlate with voting rates, school performance, or infant mortality rates? Perhaps even more fundamentally, we need a deeper understanding of what it will take to achieve a more equitable society and whether tradeoffs might be required to achieve it.