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The Fair Inequalities of Earnings

Author(s): Zbigniew Sawiński, Henryk Domański
Subject(s): Social Sciences
Published by: Instytut Filozofii i Socjologii Polskiej Akademii Nauk
Keywords: inequalities; social justice; earnings; systemic transformation in Poland

Summary/Abstract: The results of the surveys on the perceptions of income inequalities in Poland, which were conducted in 1988-1994, when the old political regime collapsed and the systemic transformation started, have been compared with the most current survey conducted in 2010. It has been demonstrated that despite the collapse of communism and the transition to market economy, there were no major changes in either how people perceive actual earnings in different occupations or what earnings they regard as fair. Both in 1988 and 2010 the respondents believed that incomes of politicians and big businessmen were the highest, while the wages of white collar workers’ at the lower positions and manual workers’ were the lowest. Moreover, the earnings seen as fair did not depart significantly from the earnings perceived as actual. This finding confirms a belief that the sense of what is fair for people is conditioned by what is seen as actual. Another conclusion is that over the two decades the acceptance for large differences in earnings considerably increased. The degree of „acceptable” inequality, as measured by the Gini index increased from 0.217 to 0.316. The systemic transformation did not substantially modify the map of social categories that were for or against differences in earnings. As two decades before, a relatively strong support for income inequalities is present in all segments of social structure. It therefore does not seem likely that wage demands could turn into a social conflict.

  • Issue Year: 206/2012
  • Issue No: 3
  • Page Range: 7-27
  • Page Count: 21
  • Language: Polish