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Living with unfairness: The limits of equal opportunity in a market economy

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  • Robert Sugden

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Abstract

Equality of opportunity is often presented as a criterion which reconciles egalitarianism with principles of freedom and responsibility. This paper distinguishes between the principle of ‘starting-line equality’, which requires that everyone’s initial opportunities, assessed in relation to what is publicly known ex ante, are equal, and the principle that equal efforts should yield equal ex post rewards. It argues that the first principle is compatible with allocation of resources through markets but, because of the division of knowledge, the second is not. If we want the opportunities which markets give us, we have to accept ex post unfairness. Copyright Springer-Verlag 2004

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Sugden, 2004. "Living with unfairness: The limits of equal opportunity in a market economy," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 22(1), pages 211-236, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:sochwe:v:22:y:2004:i:1:p:211-236 DOI: 10.1007/s00355-003-0283-1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Barbera, Salvador, 1980. "Pivotal voters : A new proof of arrow's theorem," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 13-16.
    2. Blau, Julian H, 1972. "A Direct Proof of Arrow's Theorem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 40(1), pages 61-67, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Schubert, Christian, 2015. "Opportunity And Preference Learning," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, pages 275-295.
    2. Sebastián Galiani, 2013. "Social Mobility: What is it and Why Does it Matter?," Económica, Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, pages 167-229.
    3. Björn Kauder & Niklas Potrafke, 2015. "Globalization and social justice in OECD countries," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 151(2), pages 353-376, May.
    4. Antonio Abatemarco, 2015. "A Gini approach to inequality of opportunity: evidence from the PSID," Empirical Economics, Springer, pages 1497-1519.
    5. Sebastián Galiani, 2013. "Social Mobility: What is it and Why Does it Matter?," Económica, Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, pages 167-229.

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