How much injustice is there in the world? Two new justice indexes

Guillermina Jasso

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper explores the possibility of constructing justice indexes-measures that would quantify the amount of perceived injustice in a society and thus enable comparison of the amount of injustice across societies and over time. I develop a framework, addressing six issues that arise in formulating a justice index, and present two (families of) justice indexes. The first, called JI1, distinguishes between two qualitatively different kinds of injustice-unjust underreward and unjust overreward; the second, called JI2, combines both underreward and overreward into a single type of injustice. The paper describes properties and relations of the two indexes and begins the task of assessing them by providing theoretical and empirical illustration. In the theoretical illustration, I use probability distributions to investigate, a priori, operation of the justice indexes in diverse societies and groups, which may differ in the kinds of goods and bads their members value and in the distributional patterns of those goods and bads. In the empirical illustration, I present estimates of the two justice indexes in a large 13-country microdata set, which provides information on respondents' assessments about the justice of their own earnings in 1991-1992. An important property of one of the indexes is that it enables decomposition of the total amount of perceived injustice into injustice due to scarcity and injustice due to inequality.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)133-168
    Number of pages36
    JournalAmerican sociological review
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Feb 1999

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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