Over the past decades income inequality has been sharply increasing in both mainland China and Hong Kong, two Chinese societies that have distinct paths of institutional development. While previous studies on income inequality have attempted to document the trend and investigate its causes, this article focuses on people's perceptions of legitimate income inequality and how these perceptions are related to their attitude towards inequality. Analyses of data collected in separate population surveys in China (2005) and Hong Kong (2007) reveal a higher degree of tolerance of income inequality and a higher degree of perceived fairness of income distribution in Hong Kong than in the mainland. In both societies, such normative support for income inequality is positively associated with people's perceptions of opportunities.
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