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What is Inequality?


The term 'Inequality' is included in the Economics edition of the Financial Dictionary. Get yours now on amazon in ebook or paperback format. Read more here...

Inequality refers to a form of social ill that happens across countries as the national resources become unfairly and unevenly distributed. This happens as the normal allocation of resources occurs and creates classes of haves and have not’s. Patterns of resource distribution typically occur according to social categories. Distribution of socially demanded goods occurs because of societal forces including religion, power, prestige, kinship, ethnicity, race, age, gender, and class.

There are also a range of social rights which fall under the topic of social inequality. These include access to labor markets and high quality jobs, health care, sources of income, equivalent education, freedom of speech, political participation, and fair political representation. Social inequality is closely connected to economic inequality. It stems from the uneven wealth and/or income distribution.

It is the social sciences of sociology and economics that study and create theories to understand and describe economic and social inequalities. These two disciplines work independently of one another to research unequal situations within society. They have also determined that both natural and social resources are also unfairly distributed in the vast majority of societies. This reinforces the concept of social status.

Regular means for allocating resources impact the distribution of a range of ideas and assets. These include privileges, rights, societal power, and access to publically distributed resources. Among the public resources which are impacted are justice, education, transportation, basic housing, financial and credit services, and banking opportunities. It stands out in glaring opposition to the idea of meritocracies which many nations of the world profess to encourage.

Meritocracy is the idea that economies and societies will only distribute their various resources based on the merit of every individual. Michael Young came up with this phrase with his “The Rise of Meritocracy” essay he penned in 1958. In this he showed how the idea among the elites that they succeed only because of their merits was somewhat fallacious but widespread.

Young described merit as the combination of intelligence plus effort. He feared that the British educational system which relied heavily on test scoring, quantification, and qualifications would lead to the rise of a middle class elite which was highly educated while the working class education would be inferior. This would lead to social injustice and finally a revolution in developed nations like the United Kingdom. His idea has been updated by the series 3%.

In fact, reality shows that resources are distributed along the lines of a hierarchical social arrangement. This is the way that resources are actually doled out, despite the fact that talent, intelligence, and other meritorious accomplishments are supposed to dictate resource distribution to a significant and meaningful point. The truth is that social injustice is closely connected to ethnic, racial, and gender inequality now as it always has been throughout history.

The Gini Coefficient proves to be the most heavily cited measurement for comparing and contrasting various forms of social injustice. This coefficient quantifies the income and wealth concentration in a given country using a scale of from 0 to 1. Zero equals completely evenly distributed income and wealth, while one means that a single person possesses all income and wealth in a particular country and society. The limitation to the Gini Coefficient is that despite the fact that two countries can possess the same exact coefficient, they may still showcase sharply different qualities of life and economic outputs.

The term 'Inequality' is included in the Economics edition of the Financial Dictionary. You can get your copy on amazon in Kindle or Paperback version. See more details here.