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Fairness of educational opportunities and income distribution: gender-sensitive analysis in a European comparative perspective

Rumiana Stoilova (Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria)
Petya Ilieva-Trichkova (Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 31 May 2022

Issue publication date: 14 February 2023

149

Abstract

Purpose

The focus of this article is on gender justice with respect to opportunities (educational) and outcome (earnings). The main research question is whether educational opportunities are positively converted into fairness of income, and for whom and where this is the case. The importance of this study lies in the understanding that the subjective feeling of justice is a significant measure of quality of life, of the individual's subjective feeling of happiness and of the fulfilment of the goals people have reason to value.

Design/methodology/approach

The study takes a micro-macro approach, combining macro-level data taken from official statistics and micro-data from the 2018 European Social Survey for 25 European countries; the authors also apply multilevel modelling to the data analysis.

Findings

At individual level the authors found gender differences in the associations between education and fairness of educational opportunities. With regard to the scope of fairness, the authors emphasise that fairness of educational opportunities and net pay in European countries is less likely to be felt by someone who has a lower educational level. Higher educational expenditures are positively correlated with fairness of educational opportunities but not with fairness of net pay.

Originality/value

This article contributes to theoretical, empirical and policy-relevant gender justice research on the link between inequalities and justice perceptions. The authors have expanded the theoretical understanding of the concept of gender justice by taking into account the role of a specific gender norm on fairness perceptions. The norm, when asked about in a gender-neutral way, is not associated with fairness of pay, but when posed as a question specifically to women, has a negative relationship with perceptions of fair pay. The empirical contribution consists in the evaluation of individual and country mechanisms from a gender justice perspective. The policy contribution consists in questioning the belief that longer paid maternity leave is beneficial for women. In countries with long paid leave available to mothers, women reported even lower levels of fairness of net pay than men.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the four anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on an earlier version of this article.

Citation

Stoilova, R. and Ilieva-Trichkova, P. (2023), "Fairness of educational opportunities and income distribution: gender-sensitive analysis in a European comparative perspective", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 43 No. 1/2, pp. 272-291. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-02-2022-0065

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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