EXECUTIVE SUMMARYNew York Social Indicators 1999 - Pulling Ahead, Falling Behind
By Marcia K. Meyers and Julien O. Teitler
The New York City Social Indicators Survey (NYSIS) is designed to take the "social temperature" of New York City. Every two years, we contact a representative sample of New York City families to collect data on their perceptions of life in the city and indicators of their quality of life and experience of hardship.
In our inaugural report, A Tale of Many Cities, we described life in the city as of 1997. We characterized New York as not one but as many cities - in which rich and poor, native and foreign-born varied widely in their quality of life, well-being, and levels of economic distress.
In this report we examine these same dimensions as of 1999, asking whether the quality of life in the city changed for the better or the worse between 1997 and 1999. This two-year period was one of strong economic performance in New York City, as in the rest of the country. It was also a period of substantial change in welfare, health care, and other public policies. The New York City Social Indicators provides a unique tool with which to track the consequences of these changes for well-being and inequality in the city, across a wide range of social indicators.
The data suggest three conclusions.
The 1999 New York City Social Indicators raise a question that should compel the attention of policy officials and citizens alike. As we move forward into the twenty-first century, are all the city's residents moving forward together, or are the "haves" pulling ahead while the "have nots" fall even further behind?