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On the welfare loss caused by inequality of opportunity

Author

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  • Aitor Calo-Blanco
  • J. García-Pérez

Abstract

Based on the ethical principle of equality of opportunity, this paper presents a measure of the welfare loss that is caused by an unfair distribution of a particular outcome (income, health, education, etc). The key idea is that a fair society should produce outcomes that depend on individuals’ effort and not on their external circumstances such as gender, socioeconomic background, etc. We propose measuring inequality of opportunity as the welfare loss attributed to the outcome differences among individuals who exert a similar level of effort. Our results are in line with those aspects of fairness literature that give priority to the ex post compensation approach to equality of opportunity. Finally, we present an empirical application for the measurement of the welfare loss in the income distribution in Europe. We have observed a high degree of heterogeneity among European countries. The welfare loss due to inequality of opportunity ranges in those, from basically zero to almost one fifth of their potential welfare. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Aitor Calo-Blanco & J. García-Pérez, 2014. "On the welfare loss caused by inequality of opportunity," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 12(2), pages 221-237, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jecinq:v:12:y:2014:i:2:p:221-237
    DOI: 10.1007/s10888-013-9247-6
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Antonio Abatemarco, 2017. "Evaluating Economic Mobility under Opportunity Egalitarianism," International Journal of Economics and Finance, Canadian Center of Science and Education, vol. 9(12), pages 260-277, December.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Equality of opportunity; Income distribution; Ex post compensation; Welfare loss; D31; D63; J71;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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