Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series
Edited by Robert Stimson
Chapter 15: Spatial indexes: a focus on segregation
In the social sciences, it is common for summary measures – often called indexes – of different phenomena to be constructed, often drawing on detailed data sets. These indexes include consumer price and stock market indexes, income inequality and various forms of segregation, including residential, occupational and school by gender and race, and also school segregation by socio-economic status. For example, in its quarterly survey, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and similar agencies in other countries collect price data based on a typical basket of goods and services purchased by households. This data is used for the construction of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). While some prices will be increasing and some will be declining, the change in the value of the index from one month to the next reveals the dominant overall movement of prices. Current and anticipated movements in the CPI impact on the setting of interest rates by the Central Bank, which is a key component of macroeconomic policy in many countries. Likewise, stock market indexes, such as the FTSE (UK), ASX200 (Australia) and Dow Jones (USA), are quoted during the working week. Daily changes in these indexes indicate the overall sentiment in the market. Often financial commentators will unpack these indexes and indicate the movements of the main stocks. Typically, some will have risen and some fallen.
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