Difference Between Equity and Equality

The difference between equity and equality can be defined by the share of resources an individual is receiving in a certain situation.

In an equity-based system, each individual receives the amount or quality of resources he/she requires to accomplish a certain objective whereas, in an equality-based system, each individual receives the same amount/quality of resources regardless of his/her ability to reach the specified objective with what resources he/she already has.

Equity vs Equality

The main difference between equity and equality is that equity means to give or be given as needed whereas Equality means giving or be given as the other individual gets. In an equity system, equality means that all individuals have everything they need to achieve a certain goal. In an equality system, however, since everybody gets the same resources, some end up with things they don’t even need.

Equity vs Equality

Such a system may drive a society to ‘rich becoming richer and poor becoming poorer’ circumstances.


Comparison Table Between Equity and Equality (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonEquityEquality
Do all individuals become able to achieve the same goal?YesNo
Needs assessmentNeeds are fulfilledIrrespective of needs
RationaleRequires logical and lucid analysis of people’s current situation and their end goalDoes not require any understanding of people’s current situation nor their end goal
Affected by the state of people?Yes, and counters accordinglyNot affected
Does everybody has to start at the same level?No. Everyone gets what he/she requires to get to the destinationYes. One may or may not get what they require to get to the destination
Treatment of peopleEquity treats everyone differently and according to their needsEquality treats everyone the same and does not account for their needs
DiscriminationEquity discriminates people based on their differences of class or caliber to achieve equalityEquality does not discriminate people based on their differences of class or caliber but that becomes a cause for inequality
End resultJusticeIndiscrimination


What is Equity?

Equity is impartiality. Equity-based systems are derived by needs assessment and work toward achieving justice and are suited for all situations involving a variety of classes, races or ages of people.

For example, in a classroom, the students who are weak in one subject are given extra lessons in that particular subject instead of all students are given the same or no students getting any extra class.

Although it seems only fair for all students to be provided with the same amount of attention, however, it does not ensure equal success.


What is Equality?

Equality is sameness. Equality based systems are run on equal sharing and work toward achieving fairness and are suited for situations involving a limited number of people from the same class, race or age.

Equality does not take into account the needs of individuals. Hence, for example, in an organization, all the individuals in the same job category and with the same set of responsibilities, will be paid the same no matter how much money each of them needs.

It seems fair for all the workers to be paid based on their job responsibilities however, it does not ensure that all of them will be able to afford the same lifestyle.

Does this mean that equality should not be the perimeter of success? No, equality is necessary to create harmony between the people working towards the same goal, however, to reach that level, it is first required that all individuals start at the same level and that is only achievable by equity.

It can, therefore, be said that both parameters are to be practiced in parallel to one another to ensure a system that does not discriminate.

Main Differences Between Equity and Equality

  1. Equity is a proportional share of resources whereas Equality is an equal share of resources
  2. Equity implies equal chances of success whereas Equality implies proportional chances of success
  3. Equity brings people of all classes at the same level whereas Equality ensures that provision of resources is promiscuous of class differences
  4. Equity is the means and equality is the outcome
  5. Equity is possible to achieve even if all participants do not start at the same level whereas to achieve equality, everybody needs to be at the same level from the very beginning



For a society that aims toward the betterment of all its members, equality is not enough. Although it is excessively taught that equality is the key to success, however, it is a fairly misunderstood concept. Because equality is an insensitive criterion.

The reason for this misinterpretation could be that when measuring equality, we forget to take into account what is already there. Two people who are starkly different in their lifestyles cannot be considered equal because they are provided the same amount of opportunities.

Similarly, a family of two versus a family of ten cannot be treated equally by providing them the same amount of food.

The calculation of fair share has to be proportional to the current state of the shareholder, which is why it is necessary to replace ‘equality’ by ‘equity’ in public dealings.

In a system of equality, we delude ourselves into achieving fairness. For example, on a race course, it ‘seems fair’ that all contestants start at the same point because each contestant is considered equal to the other and should not be given undue advantage.

However, if we study the course on itself we will find that the contestants placed close to the inner circle of the course will have to travel a lesser distance than the contestant in the outermost circle.

This geometrical condition is actually a reflection of real life because this difference is by default. Now what a system of equity will require is that all contestants are positioned so that the farther they are from the inner circle, the more ahead they must be at the starting point.

This is indeed the true definition of equality, which is unachievable without equity.



  1. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.so.09.080183.001245
  2. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED231906
  3. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00131880701717198
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