Inequality of opportunities

Tao Kong, Jane Golley, Lu Dong

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Socio-economic inequality is a challenge that has received global attention for decades, with the main concern being the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Recent American survey data reveal that many think that, while education and working hard are important for getting ahead, knowing the right people and belonging to a wealthy family are also critical (Pew Research Center 2014). This finding underlines the fact that inequality is commonly perceived as an outcome that arises from a combination of individuals’ talents and efforts, and their circumstances. Indeed, Rawls (1999) argues that the distribution of opportunities and that of outcomes are equally important and informative for understanding the nature and extent of inequality around the world. As two distinct but interrelated concepts, inequality of outcomes refers to the disparity among households and individuals in terms of realized results of certain variables, such as income, wealth, education and health; inequality of opportunity occurs when individuals do not have the same chances to pursue their life goals due to predetermined circumstances beyond their control, such as gender, race, place of birth, family situation (Roemer 1993, 1998). Disparity in outcome, be it income, wealth or education, if driven by variation in abilities is generally deemed acceptable, while inequality caused by uneven opportunities is thought to be unjustified and requiring to be addressed. Precisely because of this consideration, this chapter focuses on the role of inequality of opportunities in China.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationCritical Issues in Contemporary China
    Editors Czeslaw Tubilewicz
    Place of PublicationLondon
    ISBN (Print)9781315689050
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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