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Economic Development as Opportunity Equalization

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  • John E. Roemer

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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Suggested Citation

  • John E. Roemer, 2006. "Economic Development as Opportunity Equalization," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000445, UCLA Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cla:levrem:321307000000000445
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    File URL: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/P/cd/d15b/d1583.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Craig Sugden, 2014. "Timor-Leste's Pursuit of Inclusive Opportunity," Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(3), pages 522-540, September.
    2. Francisco H. G. Ferreira & Vito Peragine, 2015. "Equality of opportunity: Theory and evidence," Working Papers 359, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    3. Ashish Singh, 2011. "Inequality of Opportunity in Indian Children: The Case of Immunization and Nutrition," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 30(6), pages 861-883, December.
    4. Rougier, Eric, 2016. "“Fire in Cairo”: Authoritarian–Redistributive Social Contracts, Structural Change, and the Arab Spring," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 148-171.
    5. 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.
    6. Martin Ravallion, 2016. "Are the world’s poorest being left behind?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 139-164, June.
    7. John E. Roemer & Alain Trannoy, 2016. "Equality of Opportunity: Theory and Measurement," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(4), pages 1288-1332, December.
    8. Gordon Anderson & Jasmin Thomas, 2017. "More Unequal Yet More Alike: The Changing Anatomy of Constituent Canadian Income Distributions in the 21st Century," Working Papers tecipa-587, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    9. repec:col:000174:015711 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. repec:lde:journl:y:2017:i:87:p:165-190 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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