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Does high income inequality signify inequality of opportunities?

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  • Navon, David
  • Cohen, Yoav
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    Abstract

    It is often presumed that Gini coefficient values taken to reflect high income inequality are largely due to some combination of socioeconomic factors that gives rise to inequality of opportunities. We demonstrate, using computer simulations, that practically every Gini value within the entire range observed in state economies can be approximated by at least one of a set of possible models of an economy in which earning is totally due to random factors. Although that clearly does not prove that opportunities are in reality fairly equal, it does suggest that inequality of opportunities is not necessary for high income inequality. At the least, it relegates the burden of proof to whoever ascribes the latter largely to the former.

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    Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 51408.

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    Date of creation: 12 Nov 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:51408

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    Keywords: Gini; Lorenz; income inequality; inequality of opportunities;

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    1. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "Income Inequality In The United States, 1913-1998," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 1-39, February.
    2. Joshua M. Epstein & Robert L. Axtell, 1996. "Growing Artificial Societies: Social Science from the Bottom Up," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262550253, December.
    3. Tomes, Nigel, 1981. "The Family, Inheritance, and the Intergenerational Transmission of Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 928-58, October.
    4. Sen, Amartya, 1997. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292975, October.
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