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Equality of opportunity and the distribution of long-run income in Sweden

  • Anders Björklund

    ()

  • Markus Jäntti
  • John Roemer

    ()

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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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00355-011-0609-3
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Social Choice and Welfare.

Volume (Year): 39 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (July)
Pages: 675-696

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Handle: RePEc:spr:sochwe:v:39:y:2012:i:2:p:675-696
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  1. 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," IZA Discussion Papers 2665, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. 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.
  3. Corak, Miles & Piraino, Patrizio, 2010. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Employers," IZA Discussion Papers 4819, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Bernt Bratsberg & Knut Røed & Oddbjørn Raaum & Robin Naylor & Markus Ja�ntti & Tor Eriksson & Eva O�sterbacka, 2007. "Nonlinearities in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility: Consequences for Cross-Country Comparisons," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(519), pages C72-C92, 03.
  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. Donal O'Neill & Olive Sweetman & Dirk van de gaer, 1999. "Equiality of Opportunity and Kernel Density Estimation: An Application to Intergenerational Mobility," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n950999, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
  7. Fleurbaey, Marc, 2012. "Fairness, Responsibility, and Welfare," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199653591, March.
  8. 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.
  9. Daniele Checchi & Vito Peragine, 2010. "Inequality of opportunity in Italy," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 429-450, December.
  10. 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.
  11. Jaime Saavedra-Chanduví & José R. Molinas & Ricardo Paes de Barros & Francisco H. G. Ferreira, 2009. "Measuring Inequality of Opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean," IDB Publications (Books), Inter-American Development Bank, number 60098.
  12. 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.
  13. Björklund, Anders & Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2008. "Intergenerational top income mobility in Sweden – A combination of equal opportunity and capitalistic dynasties," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 705, Stockholm School of Economics.
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