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Equality of Opportunity and Redistribution in Europe

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Author Info

  • Dunnzlaff, Lina

    ()
    (IZA)

  • Neumann, Dirk

    ()
    (Université catholique de Louvain)

  • Niehues, Judith

    ()
    (Cologne Institute for Economic Research)

  • Peichl, Andreas

    ()
    (ZEW Mannheim)

Abstract

The concept of equality of opportunity (EOp) goes back to Roemer (1993, 1998) who argues that a society shall guarantee its members equal access to advantage regardless of their circumstances, while holding them responsible for turning that access into actual advantage by the application of effort. Such arguments have been on the political agenda across the European Union, where the recent enlargements have brought together countries with rather different economic, social, and political backgrounds. This paper investigates how family background influences income acquisition in 15 European countries. It also scrutinizes how governments affect EOp through the design of their tax and transfer schemes. Our overall results suggest that the link between family background and economic success is usually tighter in relatively poor countries than in rich countries. Moreover, we find a clear country clustering for the Scandinavian, the Continental European, and the Anglo-Saxon countries. For Eastern Europe, our results are less definite. Looking at the impact of the tax and benefit schemes in the EU, it can be concluded that both taxes and transfers reduce inequality of opportunities, with social benefits typically playing the key role. Furthermore, the equalizing impacts of the tax benefit system on inequality of opportunity differ substantially from the ones observed when referring to the traditional notion of inequality of outcomes.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5375.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5375

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Keywords: equality of opportunity; redistribution; inequality;

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Cited by:
  1. Niehues, Judith & Peichl, Andreas, 2011. "Lower and Upper Bounds of Unfair Inequality: Theory and Evidence for Germany and the US," IZA Discussion Papers 5834, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Luis Fernando Gamboa & Erika Londoño, 2014. "Equality of educational opportunities in Colombia: A metropolitan area comparison," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 011040, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
  3. Márcia de Carvalho & Luis Fernando Gamboa & Fábio D. Waltenberg, 2012. "Equality of Educational Ppportunity Employing PISA Data: Taking both Achievement and Access into Account," Working Papers 277, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  4. Niehues, J. (Judith) & Andreas Peichl, 2012. "GINI DP 34: Bounds of Unfair Inequality of Opportunity: Theory and Evidence for Germany and the US," GINI Discussion Papers 34, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
  5. Judith Niehues & Andreas Peichl, 2012. "Bounds of Unfair Inequality of Opportunity: Theory and Evidence for Germany and the US," CESifo Working Paper Series 3815, CESifo Group Munich.

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