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Equality of Opportunity and the Distribution of Long-Run Income in Sweden

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  • Björklund, Anders

    ()
    (SOFI, Stockholm University)

  • Jäntti, Markus

    ()
    (SOFI, Stockholm University)

  • Roemer, John E.

    ()
    (Yale University)

Abstract

Equality of opportunity is an ethical goal with almost universal appeal. The interpretation taken here is that a society has achieved equality of opportunity if it is the case that what individuals accomplish, with respect to some desirable objective, is determined wholly by their choices and personal effort, rather than by circumstances beyond their control. We use data for Swedish men born between 1955 and 1967 for whom we measure the distribution of long-run income, as well as several important background circumstances, such as parental education and income, family structure and own IQ before adulthood. We address the question: in Sweden, given its present constellation of social policies and institutions, to what extent is existing income inequality due to circumstances, as opposed to 'effort'? Our results suggest that several circumstances, importantly both parental income and own IQ, are important for long-run income inequality, but that variations in individual effort account for the most part of that inequality.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5466.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2011
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Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5466

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Keywords: inequality; family background; equality of opportunity; long-run income;

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References

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  1. Lefranc, Arnaud & Pistolesi, Nicolas & Trannoy, Alain, 2009. "Equality of opportunity and luck: Definitions and testable conditions, with an application to income in France," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(11-12), pages 1189-1207, December.
  2. Ricardo Paes de Barros & Francisco H. G. Ferreira & Jose R. Molinas Vega & Jaime Saavedra Chanduvi, 2009. "Measuring Inequality of Opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2580, July.
  3. Björklund, Anders & Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2008. "Intergenerational top income mobility in Sweden – A combination of equal opportunity and capitalistic dynasties," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 705, Stockholm School of Economics.
  4. Fleurbaey, Marc, 2012. "Fairness, Responsibility, and Welfare," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199653591, September.
  5. François Bourguignon & Francisco H. G. Ferreira & Marta Menéndez, 2007. "Inequality Of Opportunity In Brazil," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 53(4), pages 585-618, December.
  6. Corak, Miles & Piraino, Patrizio, 2010. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Employers," IZA Discussion Papers 4819, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Björklund Anders & Jäntti Markus & Solon Gary, 2007. "Nature and Nurture in the Intergenerational Transmission of Socioeconomic Status: Evidence from Swedish Children and Their Biological and Rearing Parents," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 1-23, November.
  8. Björklund, Anders & Jäntti, Markus & Lindquist, Matthew J., 2009. "Family background and income during the rise of the welfare state: Brother correlations in income for Swedish men born 1932-1968," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(5-6), pages 671-680, June.
  9. Keane, Michael P. & Roemer, John E., 2009. "Assessing policies to equalize opportunity using an equilibrium model of educational and occupational choices," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 879-898, August.
  10. Anders Bohlmark & Matthew J. Lindquist, 2006. "Life-Cycle Variations in the Association between Current and Lifetime Income: Replication and Extension for Sweden," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(4), pages 879-900, October.
  11. Bratsberg,Bernt & Røed, Knut & Raaum, Oddbjørn & Naylor, Robin & Jäntti, Markus & Eriksson, Tor & Österbacka, Eva, 2007. "Nonlinearities in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility : Consequences for Cross-Country Comparisons," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 782, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  12. Daniele Checchi & Vito Peragine, 2010. "Inequality of opportunity in Italy," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 429-450, December.
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Cited by:
  1. X. Ramos & D. Van De Gaer, 2012. "Empirical Approaches to Inequality of Opportunity: Principles, Measures, and Evidence," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 12/792, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  2. CARPANTIER, Jean-François & SAPATA, Christelle, 2012. "Unfair inequalities in France: A regional comparison," CORE Discussion Papers 2012038, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  3. Vito Peragine, 2011. "Review of “Measuring inequality of opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean” by Ricardo Paes de Barros, Francisco H. G. Ferreira, José R. Molinas Vega, and Jaime Saavedra Chanduvi , World," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 137-143, March.
  4. Aitor Calo Blanco & J. Ignacio García Pérez, 2012. "On the welfare loss caused by inequality of opportunity," Working Papers 12.12, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Department of Economics.
  5. Judith Niehues & Andreas Peichl, 2011. "Lower and Upper Bounds of Unfair Inequality: Theory and Evidence for Germany and the US," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 395, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  6. Jean-François Carpantier & Christelle Sapata, 2012. "An ex-post view of inequality of opportunity in France and its regions," Working Papers wpdea1211, Department of Applied Economics at Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona.

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