British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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Volume 3 Issue 2 (June 1985), Pages 113-208

Children's representation of economic inequalities: The effects of social class (pages 191-198)

Children aged 7 to 12 and drawn from contrasting social backgrounds made estimates of the incomes of people in different occupations and made judgements about the fairness of income differences. Middle‐class children, as compared to working‐class children, not only made higher overall estimates of income for all the occupations considered but also perceived a greater spread in incomes and a clearer division between manual and non‐manual occupations. Irrespective of their own social class background, a majority of children regarded differences in income as justified on grounds of equity. However, the middle‐class children appeared to possess a more extensive rationale for inequality and to be more committed to it. They also seemed more sensitive to other consequences of income differences. The results are discussed in terms of alternative theories of socio‐cognitive development.

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