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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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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 Lee Sokoloff, 2002. "Factor Endowments, Inequality, and Paths of Development among New World Economies," JOURNAL OF LACEA ECONOMIA, LACEA - LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION.
  2. Fleurbaey, Marc, 1995. "Equal Opportunity or Equal Social Outcome?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(01), pages 25-55, April.
  3. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert, 1999. "The Quality of Government," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 222-79, April.
  4. Hild, Matthias & Voorhoeve, Alex, 2004. "Equality Of Opportunity And Opportunity Dominance," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(01), pages 117-145, April.
  5. Erik Schokkaert & Kurt Devooght, 2003. "Responsibility-sensitive fair compensation in different cultures," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 207-242, October.
  6. Durlauf, S.N., 1992. "A Theory of Persistent Income Inequality," Papers 47, Stanford - Institute for Thoretical Economics.
  7. Jere R. Behrman & Alejandro Gaviria & Miguel Székely, 2001. "Intergenerational Mobility in Latin America," JOURNAL OF LACEA ECONOMIA, LACEA - LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION.
  8. Collier, Paul & Dollar, David, 2001. "Can the World Cut Poverty in Half? How Policy Reform and Effective Aid Can Meet International Development Goals," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(11), pages 1787-1802, November.
  9. Loury, Glenn C, 1981. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Distribution of Earnings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 843-67, June.
  10. Llavador, Humberto G. & Roemer, John E., 2001. "An equal-opportunity approach to the allocation of international aid," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 147-171, February.
  11. Menno Pradhan & David E. Sahn & Stephen D. Younger, 2001. "Decomposing World Health Inequality," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 01-091/2, Tinbergen Institute.
  12. Bourguignon, F. & Fournier, M. & Gurgand, M., 2000. "Fast Development with a Stable Income Distribution: Taiwan, 1979-1994," DELTA Working Papers 2000-07, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  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. Cogneau, Denis, 2010. "The political dimension of inequality during economic development," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 1013, CEPREMAP.
  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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