Inequality Measured Do Causal Relationships Class Inequality  Essay

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  • Subject: Sociology
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #4985415

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inequality"; measured? Do causal relationships "class" "inequality"? Assignment instructions This assignment, covers concepts presented Unit 2, asks prepare essay response (approximately 1600-1700 words, typed/word-processed pages) questions presented .


Throughout the past recent years, the world has evolved at a rapid pace, and this development has been obvious at an economic level, a technological level, but also a social level. Specifically, more and more emphasis is placed on social well-being and the creation of social advantages across nations.

In the direction of social well-being, an increased emphasis is being placed on the elimination of inequality, and the efforts have yet to be fully capitalized upon. In the age of capitalism and globalization, the rich seem to become richer, and the poor become even poorer. While this statement might appear as lyric, it can be backed by several real life examples. One relevant example in this sense is represented by the outsourcing contracts, which allow the economic agents to transcend boundaries and open manufacturing plants in third world regions that provide them with cheap labor force. This in turn creates cost efficiencies and increases the profitability rates for the companies, making their wealthy owners even wealthier. For the employees in the third world countries however, the working conditions are exploiting and the wages paid are insufficient to provide for a decent life. A state of poverty is as such maintained, preventing the local population from enhancing their life styles (Ross, 2004).

Inequality is as such still highly present within the society of the twenty first century, and the efforts to reducing its must start with a better comprehension of the concept. This project then focuses on the description of inequality, its measurement and the existence of a causal relationship between inequality and class.

2. The concept of inequality

At a general level, the concept of inequality refers to a situation in which some groups or individuals have an increased access to specific resources, whereas other groups have a restricted access to the same sources; the living conditions of the two groups with diverse access to the resources are also different and the dissimilar access might not always be entitled or fair.

In a more specific setting, the specialized literature often defines the concept of inequality within a particular context addressed, such as health care inequality. At this level, Wilhelm Kirch (2008) states the following:

"Inequalities in health refer to differences in both health experiences and health status between countries, regions, and socioeconomic groups. Some inequalities are biological (e.g. genetic), others reflect socially determined population differences (environmental factors, behavior)."

Paul Ryscavage (1999) assesses the matter inequality from a financial stand point, in the case of income inequality within the United States. At this level, emphasis is placed on differences among the wages received by the various categories of employees in the country, and the federal efforts to decreasing the income gap and reducing as such inequality. Still, this objective has yet to be reached.

The researchers at the United Nations Development Programme present the concept of inequality through the lenses of genders. At this level, they argue that the representatives of the female gender are often (too often, as they say) discriminated against at levels such as health care, education or the labor market; all these discriminations generate negative impacts upon the freedom and well-being of the girls and women (Website of the United Nations Development Programme).

Finally, the researchers at the European-Anti Poverty Network look at inequality in comparison to poverty. They state that poverty is mostly relevant at the level of specific social classes, whereas inequality is a more important social indicator, since it assesses the state of an economy and a society across all of its social constructions.

"Unlike poverty, which concentrates on the situation of those at the bottom of society, inequality shows how resources are distributed across the whole society. This gives a picture of the difference between average income, and what poor and rich people earn, and highlights how well different Member States redistribute or share the income they produce" (The European-Anti Poverty Network, 2004).

All in all, the concept of inequality refers to differences across various social groups in terms of access to health care, education, jobs and so on. The particularities of the inequality are defined at each individual level, yet the occurrence of inequality is often unjust.

3. Measuring inequality

Inequality is most often perceived as a qualitative element, impacting the quality of life for the individuals. Still, in order to better understand and strive to decrease it, it is also necessary to approach it from a quantitative standpoint, in which it is addressed through numerical and statistical evidence. In this order of ideas, the specialized literature proposes some solutions to measuring inequality, as follows:

The S80/S20 ratio

The decile dispersion ratio

The Gini coefficient

Other statistical ratios.

The S80/S20 ratio is a simplistic measurement tool through which the researchers divide the wages received by the wealthiest 20 per cent of the population by the wages received by the 20 per cent of the poorest of the population; the higher the rate, the higher the inequality (The European-Anti Poverty Network, 2004). The decile dispersion ratio is similar in the meaning that it compares the top richest with the top ten poorer, but it only assesses 10 per cent at each level and the inequality addresses their consumption powers (Haughton and Khandker, 2009).

The Gini coefficient is probably the most popular tool to measuring the inequality within the society and it is different from the S80/S20 ratio since it assesses the income inequality based on the income levels of the entire population, not just the top and the bottom.

"It is a technical formula which identifies the relationship of cumulative shares of the population arranged according to the level of income, to the cumulative share of the total amount received by them. If there were perfect equality (i.e. If each person received the same income), this coefficient would be 0%. If the entire national income were in the hands of only one person then the coefficient would be 100%. The higher the coefficient - the greater the inequality in the distribution of income in a country" (The European-Anti Poverty Network, 2004).

Finally, the inequality within a society can also be assessed with the aid of the Theil, mean log deviation and relative mean deviation statistical formulas. Theil compares the income of a person with the share in the total population, based on relative values of incomes for all individuals. The mean log deviation and the relative mean deviation assess the person's income with the mean values in the society. The mean log deviation reveals the difference between the income of an individual and the average income within the respective society; the relative mean derivation reveals the total income that should be transferred in order to equalize all incomes across the society (Milanovic).

4. Causal relationship between class and inequality

The study of inequality is rather complex and the opinions of the academicians differ on the various topics of inequality. For instance, some researchers believe that inequality is mostly obvious at the level of countries (Kirch, 2008), whereas others believe that it is mostly obvious at the level of social classes.

Jonathan Kelley and Herbert S. Klein (1981) even explained inequality in the context of social classes. They as such argued that inequality represented the difference between the wealth of the elite and that of the peasants and other exploited society groups. The social and economic conditions of these two classes were directly linked and a causal relationship existed between the two. Specifically, the reduction of inequality in the sense of an increase in the social and economic condition of the exploited classes would undoubtedly materialize in a loss for the elite. Subsequently, an additional gain for the elite class would materialize in an additional loss for the peasants, the workers and other exploited social classes.

This relationship is based on the existence of limited social and economic benefits in the world and the fact that when one class losses or gains, no new benefits are created, but the already existent gains are redistributed. In such a setting, the causal relationship sees that the development of one social class leads to the underdevelopment of the other social class.

When the people are exploited, they often rebel against the oppressors and seek to reduce the inequality between the classes. This rebellion can sometimes take the form of a revolution, through which the elite class is overthrown -- when the revolution is successful. Kelley and Klein state that it usually takes an entire generation for the old elite to renounce its inequality demands and perceptions, and for the society to stabilize; and as the society does stabilize eventually, the inequality drops to about one quarter of the inequality before the revolution.

While this outcome would initially be perceived as a positive one decreasing inequality and promoting social equality, an unexpected outcome is that inequality in…

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