This is an introductory chapter. The first three main sections outline the growth of interest in the inequality of pay, the economist's approach to pay determination, and the sociologist's approach to pay determination. The fourth section discusses the practical issue of whether differences in pay can be reduced substantially and generally on conditions not in themselves acceptable. Sociologists hold that there is nothing in the nature of things to prevent this, while most economists would rejoin that the imposition of pay equalization would bring about disruptive consequences that could only be contained by non‐egalitarian measures. The last section of the chapter outlines the plan of the book, which is in two main sections: inequality of pay presents itself in two main aspects, differences between the average pay in different occupations (pay structure), which are addressed in Chs. 2–7, and the distribution of individual earnings, which is addressed in Chs. 8–9; Ch. 10 brings together the main findings that have been reached in these two ways.
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