Cross-National Indices with Gender-Differentiated Data: What Do They Measure? How Valid Are They?

Angela Hawken, Gerardo L. Munck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The two cross-national indices with gender-differentiated data introduced by the UNDP in 1995, as well as several other such indices developed subsequently, are an important resource for researchers and policy makers interested in gender disparities. Yet questions remain regarding how these indices should be interpreted and how valid they are. Relying on a framework that synthesizes key guidelines concerning the methodology of measurement, this article offers an assessment of indices currently used to study gender disparities on a global scale and sheds light on these unresolved questions. We answer two questions-what do these indices with gender-differentiated data actually measure? and, how valid are these indices?-and discuss the implications of our assessment for users and producers of gender indices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)801-838
Number of pages38
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Cross-national data
  • Gender indices
  • Global data sets
  • Measurement validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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