The paper presents a comparative analysis of five cross country composite gender indices. Although there is a relatively high correlation between the indices, the overlap of underlying indicators is low. Country rankings, both at the top and at the bottom have parallels but are quite distinct. The differences are explained in two ways: methodologically and theoretically. The methodological differences concern in particular weights, capping, and aggregation. The Capability Approach explains the theoretical differences, by distinguishing between four stages, which include distinct types of indicators. The substantial differences that exist between the gender indices require a cautious selection between these for research and policy analysis. This is shown in a few examples with policy variables. Finally, the paper presents a set of three decision trees which enables an informed choice between the indices. The paper ends with a conclusion.

Additional Metadata
Keywords gender, index, inequality measurement, policy research
Persistent URL
Series ISD Working Paper Series
van Staveren, I.P. (2011). To Measure is to Know? A Comparative Analysis of Gender Indices (No. 2011-02). ISD Working Paper Series. Retrieved from