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Equality of opportunity and other equity principles in the context of developing countries

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  • Cogneau, Denis

Abstract

I propose a personal reading of some theories of social justice at a moment when the issue of equality or equity appears to be back on the ‘development agenda’. Nowadays the term equity tends to be most often associated with the equality of opportunity principle. After having briefly summarized the equality of opportunity standpoint, I review the two main criticisms that have been addressed to it inside the economic literature: the right-wing meritocratic criticism on the one hand, and the left-wing egalitarian criticism on the other. I supplement these internal criticisms with a sociological or anthropological standpoint that advocates for a more pluralist definition of justice and gives a central role to the competition between elites for legitimacy. I argue that despite its indubitable potency (even for issues like international inequalities between countries), the equality of opportunity principle is incomplete and that some meritocratic principles and some equalization of outcomes should enter into play when thinking about social justice in a given real society. Moreover, a socially relevant conception of justice should take into account cultural variations in the definition of fairness. A universalist definition of justice is better preserved when the issue of tyranny and separation of powers is considered at both the social and political levels.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Paris Dauphine University in its series Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine with number 123456789/4404.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Publication status: Published in DIAL Document de travail, 2005
Handle: RePEc:dau:papers:123456789/4404

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Keywords: Séparation des pouvoirs; Equité; Développement; Economie politique; Méritocratie; Egalité des chances; Inégalité; Justice distributive; Separation of Powers; Equity; Development; Political Economy; Meritocracy; Equality of Opportunity; Inequality; Distributive Justice;

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  1. Stanley L Engerman & Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 2002. "Factor Endowments, Inequality, and Paths of Development Among New World Economics," NBER Working Papers 9259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Hild, Matthias & Voorhoeve, Alex, 2004. "Equality Of Opportunity And Opportunity Dominance," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(01), pages 117-145, April.
  3. John Roemer & Humberto G. Llavador, 2003. "An Equal-Opportunity Approach to the Allocation of International Air," Working Papers 9910, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  4. Jere Behrman R. & Alejandro Gavieria Uribe & Miguel Szekely Sánchez, 2001. "Intergenerational Mobility in Latin America," WORKING PAPERS SERIES. DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 002914, FEDESARROLLO.
  5. Collier, Paul & Dollar, David, 2000. "Can the world cut poverty in half ? how policy reform and effective aid can meet international development goals," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2403, The World Bank.
  6. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1998. "The Quality of Goverment," NBER Working Papers 6727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Durlauf, Steven N, 1996. " A Theory of Persistent Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 75-93, March.
  8. Menno Pradhan & David E. Sahn & Stephen D. Younger, 2001. "Decomposing World Health Inequality," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 01-091/2, Tinbergen Institute.
  9. Kurt Devooght & Erik Schokkaert, 1999. "Responsibility-Sensitive Fair Compensation in Different Cultures," STICERD - Distributional Analysis Research Programme Papers 46, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  10. Fleurbaey, Marc, 1995. "Equal Opportunity or Equal Social Outcome?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(01), pages 25-55, April.
  11. François Bourguignon & Martin Fournier & Marc Gurgand, 1999. "Fast Development with a Stable Income Distribution : Taiwan, 1979-1994," Working Papers 99-21, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  12. Loury, Glenn C, 1981. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Distribution of Earnings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 843-67, June.
  13. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2002. "The Inheritance of Inequality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 3-30, Summer.
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Cited by:
  1. Denis Cogneau, 2009. "The political dimension of inequality during economic development," Working Papers DT/2009/10, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
  2. Cling, Jean-Pierre & Cogneau, Denis & Loup, Jacques & Naudet, Jean-David & Razafindrakoto, Mireille & Roubaud, François, 2005. "Le développement, une question de chances ? A propos du Rapport sur le Développement dans le monde 2006 « Equité et Développement »," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/4390, Paris Dauphine University.

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