Inequality of Opportunity in Brazil
AbstractThis paper proposes a measure of the contribution of unequal opportunities to earnings inequality. Drawing on the distinction between ‘circumstance’ and ‘effort’ variables in John Roemer’s work on equality of opportunity, we associate inequality of opportunities with five observed circumstances which lie beyond the control of the individual – father’s and mother’s education; father’s occupation; race; and region of birth. The paper provides a range of estimates of the importance of these opportunity-forming circumstances in accounting for earnings inequality in one of the world’s most unequal countries. We also decompose the effect of opportunities into a direct effect on earnings and an indirect component, which works through the “effort” variables. The decomposition is applied to the distribution of male earnings in urban Brazil, in 1996. The five observed circumstances are found to account for between 10% and 37% of the Theil index, depending on cohort and allowing for the possibility of biased coefficient estimates due to unobserved correlates. On average, sixty percent of this impact operates through the direct effect on earnings. Parental education is the most important circumstance affecting earnings, but the occupation of the father and race also play a role.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Paris Dauphine University in its series Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine with number 123456789/1552.
Date of creation: Dec 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Review of Income and Wealth, 2007, Vol. 53, no. 4. pp. 585-618.Length: 33 pages
Inequality of opportunity; earnings inequality; Brazil; Measurement and Analysis of Poverty; Welfare Programs;
Other versions of this item:
- Francois Bourguignon & Francisco H.B. Ferreira & Marta Menéndez, 2005. "Inequality of Opportunity in Brazil," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 133, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.
- I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
- I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
- D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
- D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
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