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Inequality of Opportunity for Income in Five Countries of Africa

  • Cogneau, Denis
  • Mesplé-Somps, Sandrine

This paper examines for the first time inequality of opportunity for income in Africa, by analyzing large-sample surveys, all providing information on individuals' parental background, in five comparable Sub-Saharan countries: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Madagascar and Uganda. We compute inequality of opportunity indexes in keeping with the main proposals in the literature, and propose a decomposition of between-country differences that distinguishes the respective impacts of intergenerational mobility between social origins and positions, of the distribution of education and occupations, and of the earnings structure. Among our five countries, Ghana in 1988 has by far the lowest income inequality between individuals of different social origins, while Madagascar in 1993 displays the highest inequality of opportunity from the same point of view. Ghana in 1998, Ivory Coast in 1985-88, Guinea in 1994 and Uganda in 1992 stand in-between and can not be ranked without ambiguity. Inequality of opportunity for income seems to correlate with overall income inequality more than with national average income. Decompositions reveal that the two former British colonies (Ghana and Uganda) share a much higher intergenerational educational and occupational mobility than the three former French colonies. Further, Ghana distinguishes itself from the four other countries, because of the combination of widespread secondary schooling, low returns to education and low income dualism against agriculture. Nevertheless, it displays marked regional inequality insofar as being born in the Northern part of this country produces a significant restriction of income opportunities.

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Paper provided by Paris Dauphine University in its series Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine with number 123456789/4320.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Publication status: Published in Inequality and Opportunity: Papers from the Second ECINEQ Society Meeting, . pp. 99-128.Length: 29 pages
Handle: RePEc:dau:papers:123456789/4320
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