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Economic development as opportunity equalization

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  • Roemer, John E.

Abstract

Economic development should be conceived of as the degree to which an economy has implemented an efficient and just distribution of economic resources. The ubiquitous measure of GDP per capita reflects a utilitarian conception of justice, where individual utility is defined as personal income, and social welfare is the average of utilities in a population. A more attractive conception of justice is opportunity-equalization. Here, a two-dimensional measure of economic development is proposed, based upon viewing individuals’ incomes as a consequence of circumstances, effort, and policy. The first dimension is the average income level of those in the society with the most disadvantaged circumstances, and the second dimension is the degree to which total income inequality is due to differential effort, as opposed to differential circumstances. This pair of numbers is computed for a set of 22 European countries. No country dominates all others on both dimensions. The two-dimensional measure induces a partial ordering of countries with respect to development.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6530.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 2013
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6530

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Related research

Keywords: Economic Theory&Research; Inequality; Population Policies; Rural Poverty Reduction; Poverty Impact Evaluation;

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  1. GDP is not everything
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2008-04-24 02:08:00
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Cited by:
  1. Ashish Singh, 2010. "The Effect of Family Background on Individual Wages and an Examination of Inequality of Opportunity in India," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 31(3), pages 230-246, September.
  2. Singh, Ashish, 2010. "Inequality of opportunity in Indian children: the case of immunization and nutrition," MPRA Paper 32505, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. World Bank, 2012. "Well Begun, Not Yet Done : Vietnam's Remarkable Progress on Poverty Reduction and the Emerging Challenges," World Bank Other Operational Studies 12326, The World Bank.

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