Can we use the words equity and equality interchangeably? Well, no! There is significant difference between equity and equality. Therefore, we must know the exact meaning of these words before using them. The question of equity vs equality comes when we want to indicate the equal distribution of something. Let’s see what’s the difference.
Equality refers to treating everybody in the same manner. To illustrate with an example, let’s assume that a team of twelve persons wins some prize money. Moving forward, if we divide all the money equally in twelve parts for each person, then this is equal distribution. As a result, each person will said to be treated with equality.
In contrast, the objective of equity is not to give everyone equal share. The aim of equity is to share resources depending on some measurable criteria. Let’s again take the example of winning team and prize money. If we share the prize money among team members as per their performances then the each member will said to be rewarded with equity.
Shall we take another example? OK, let’s say the government decides to provide subsidy on movie tickets to give boost to entertainment industry.
Now if the government provides 25% discount to everybody then this is equality. But if government provides more discount to poorer people and less discount to richer people than this is equity.
You would easily be able to answer whether we pay income taxes on the basis of equality or equity, wouldn’t you?
Differences between Equity and Equality
|1.||Aim is to bring everyone at same level.||Aim is to provide equal share in resources.|
|2.||Considers certain criteria to decide share of various members.||Does not consider any criteria. Provides equal share to everyone.|
|3.||Equity is subjective in nature. It varies in different circumstances.||Equality does not vary as per circumstances. Therefore, it is easily measurable.|
|4.||Equity is more like fairness and justice.||Equality provides more of sameness.|
|5.||Equity results in real equality.||Equality may not result in real equality.|
|6.||Equity is a need based approach of sharing resources.||Equality does not consider need.|
|7.||One needs to exercise rationale to be equitable.||Rationality is not required to be equality-oriented.|
|8.||It justifies share on the basis of quality.||It justifies share on the basis of quantity.|
|9.||Equity is inclusive approach.||Equality is not inclusive. The end result of equal distribution may still leave people out of the mainstream.|
As we said, equity is inclusive. The following illustration very nicely depicts this point.
As you can see, equity provides resources as per the needs. On the other hand, equality measures everybody with the same yardstick.
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(Ha-Joon Chang, in 23 Things They Don’t Tell You about Capitalism)
With you it is always the law, never equity.
(Rafael Sabatini in Scaramouche)