Sociology Index

Inequality of Opportunity

Inequality of opportunity is the biggest social problem that is hurting most children in the developing world. It is quite difficult to measure 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.

Inequality of opportunity happens because of poverty, caste, religion and culture of poverty and we cannot have equality of opportunity without equality of condition. Inequality of condition, like soft discrimination, hurts a child throughout a child's life. Stratification is the condition of being stratified. Social Inequality is found in virtually all social processes.

Inequality of Opportunity because of gender, economic circumstances, geography, and even ethnicity can trap large groups of people in poverty. Inequality of opportunity lies at the very heart of discussions about inequality and social welfare. Inequality of opportunity occurs when people living in the same society do not have access to the same opportunities. Research has also shown how high and rising income inequality drives an inequality of opportunity for subsequent generations. Equality of opportunity is, quite consistent with Inequality of Condition.

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.

Inequality of opportunity in in terms of education, jobs and income remains higher than in western Europe, but is lower than in Brazil, India and the United States of America. Parental background is the most important determinant of inequality of opportunity across the region, followed by gender. Inequality of opportunity is higher in terms of getting a good job than it is in terms of getting a job. In countries where inequality of opportunity is high, people express less support for market economics and democracy.

Inequality of opportunity are part of discussions about inequality and social welfare. High levels of inequality of opportunity mean that people’s circumstances at birth, their gender, the place where they were born, their ethnicity or their parental background, determine to a significant degree the educational qualifications they obtain, the type of job they get and, ultimately, their level of earnings. Inequality of opportunity prevents people from making the best use of their skills or realising their entrepreneurial ideas.