While public consideration of social equity pre-dates Minnowbrook (Blessett et al., 2019; Burnier, 2021), the field formally recognized social equity as its fourth pillar after the conference (Frederickson, 1971). The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA, 2000), Svara and Brunet (2004, 2005), and Johnson and Svara (2011) outlined a unified social equity framework along four dimensions: procedural fairness, access, quality, and outcomes. We build on this important work by offering a polycentric extension, which considers what social equity means when government programs are often place-based and delivered in an intergovernmental context with multiple decision-making units across spatial levels (e.g., state, city, neighborhood) simultaneously. Using the Community Development Block Grant as an example, we demonstrate the importance of careful consideration of geographic levels in the delivery of public goods for understanding the program’s social equity implications. The polycentric framework can be a useful tool for evaluating the social equity of policies.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.