Sociology Index

Inequality of Opportunity

Social Inequality, Social Stratification, Social Class

Inequality of opportunity is the biggest social problem that is hurting most children in the developing world. Inequality of opportunity happens not just because of poverty, caste, religion and culture of poverty are also to be blamed. We cannot have equality of opportunity without equality of condition. Inequality of condition, like soft discrimination, hurts a child throughout a child's life. Research has also shown how high and rising income inequality drives an inequality of opportunity for subsequent generations. Equality of opportunity is, of course, quite consistent with inequality of condition.

But is not the same as two runners given an even start, and equally good tracks. Inequality of condition does not necessarily equal inequality of opportunity. Distinctions between inequality of opportunity and inequality of outcomes do not hold water in practice, and we are likely to greatly underestimate inequality of opportunity. It is quite difficult to measure inequality of opportunity.

INEQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY IN COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE: Recent Research on Educational Attainment and Social Mobility - Richard Breen and Jan O. Jonsson, Annual Review of Sociology Vol. 31: 223-243.
Data now available have led to more and better descriptions of inequality of opportunity across countries and over time. Inequality of condition undermines equality of opportunity, and inequality opportunity is unjust.

In American political discourse, a distinction is often made between inequality of condition and inequality of opportunity. In terms of scientific work, progress has been made on the study of inequality of condition than on the study of inequality of opportunity. This paper proposes an approach to defining and measuring inequality of opportunity that avoids many of the problems found in previous research. It is important to measure inequality of opportunity at both the individual and group levels. Measuring opportunity - KRYMKOWSKI Daniel H.- Mathematical Sociology in Japan and America. Conference, Honolulu, Hawai , ETATS-UNIS (23/06/2002) 2001, vol. 25.