Adolescents’ Justice Evaluations of Earning Gaps in an Unequal Country: Evidence from Chile

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Adolescents’ beliefs regarding inequality have received scant attention in social research. This article tackles the underlying processes that explain adolescents’ justice evaluations of earning gaps across status groups in Chile. I investigate whether their perception of earning gaps and fairness values mediate the relationship between socio-economic status and what they consider a just payment difference. Results show that perceptions of inequality and fairness values emerged as mediators between status and the level of inequality deemed as just, although perception played a stronger role. The results also provide evidence for a consensual legitimacy of inequality across status groups: adolescents from different status groups do not disagree on the fair payment gap. This legitimization of inequality does not necessarily entail acceptance by most youths of the high levels of income inequality in Chile. Their values and perceptions of inequality are anchored in their social standing, and this anchoring has consequences in terms of the legitimization of inequality.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2020


  • Adolescents
  • Chile
  • fairness values
  • inequality
  • justice evaluations of earning gaps

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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