IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/dia/wpaper/dt200501.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Equality of opportunity and other equity principles in the context of developing countries

Author

Listed:
  • Denis Cogneau

    () (DIAL, IRD, Paris)

Abstract

I propose a personal reading of some theories of social justice at a moment when the issue of equality or equity appears to be back on the ‘development agenda’. Nowadays the term equity tends to be most often associated with the equality of opportunity principle. After having briefly summarized the equality of opportunity standpoint, I review the two main criticisms that have been addressed to it inside the economic literature: the right-wing meritocratic criticism on the one hand, and the left-wing egalitarian criticism on the other. I supplement these internal criticisms with a sociological or anthropological standpoint that advocates for a more pluralist definition of justice and gives a central role to the competition between elites for legitimacy. I argue that despite its indubitable potency (even for issues like international inequalities between countries), the equality of opportunity principle is incomplete and that some meritocratic principles and some equalization of outcomes should enter into play when thinking about social justice in a given real society. Moreover, a socially relevant conception of justice should take into account cultural variations in the definition of fairness. A universalist definition of justice is better preserved when the issue of tyranny and separation of powers is considered at both the social and political levels. _________________________________ Je propose une lecture personnelle de quelques théories de la justice sociale au moment où la question de l’égalité ou de l’équité semble être revenue sur l’agenda du développement. De nos jours le terme équité semble être le plus souvent associé au principe d’égalité des chances. Après un court résumé du point de vue de l’égalité des chances, je passe en revue les deux critiques principales qui lui ont été adressées au sein de la littérature économique : la critique méritocratique de droite d’un côté, et la critique égalitariste de gauche de l’autre. J’ajoute à ces deux critiques internes un point de vue historique et sociologique qui prone une définition pluraliste de la justice et fait jouer un rôle central à la compétition des élites pour la légitimité. J’argumente que malgré son indubitable puissance (même dans le domaine des inégalités internationales entre pays), le principe d’égalité des chances est incomplet et que des principes méritocratiques et d’égalisation des résultats doivent entrer en jeu lorsqu’on réfléchit à la justice sociale dans une société réellement existante. De plus, une conception de la justice socialement pertinente doit prendre en compte les variations culturelles dans la définition du juste. Une définition universaliste de la justice est mieux préservée lorsque la question de la tyrannie et de la séparation des pouvoirs est considérée, à la fois sur le plan social et sur le plan politique.

Suggested Citation

  • Denis Cogneau, 2005. "Equality of opportunity and other equity principles in the context of developing countries," Working Papers DT/2005/01, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
  • Handle: RePEc:dia:wpaper:dt200501
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.dial.ird.fr/media/ird-sites-d-unites-de-recherche/dial/documents/publications/doc_travail/2005/2005-01
    File Function: First version, 2005
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert, 1999. "The Quality of Government," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 222-279, April.
    2. Dirk Van de gaer; & Michel Martinez; & Erik Schokkaert, 1998. "Measuring Intergenerational Mobility and Equality of Opportunity," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n780598, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
    3. Stanley L. Engerman & Kenneth Lee Sokoloff, 2002. "Factor Endowments, Inequality, and Paths of Development Among New World Economies," ECONOMIA JOURNAL, THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION - LACEA, vol. 0(Fall 2002), pages 41-110, August.
    4. Collier, Paul & Dollar, David, 2001. "Can the World Cut Poverty in Half? How Policy Reform and Effective Aid Can Meet International Development Goals," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(11), pages 1787-1802, November.
    5. Hild, Matthias & Voorhoeve, Alex, 2004. "Equality Of Opportunity And Opportunity Dominance," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(01), pages 117-145, April.
    6. Pradhan, Menno & Sahn, David E. & Younger, Stephen D., 2003. "Decomposing world health inequality," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 271-293, March.
    7. Loury, Glenn C, 1981. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Distribution of Earnings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 843-867, June.
    8. Jere R. Behrman & Alejandro Gaviria & Miguel Székely, 2001. "Intergenerational Mobility in Latin America," ECONOMIA JOURNAL, THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION - LACEA, vol. 0(Fall 2001), pages 1-44, August.
    9. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2002. "The Inheritance of Inequality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 3-30, Summer.
    10. Llavador, Humberto G. & Roemer, John E., 2001. "An equal-opportunity approach to the allocation of international aid," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 147-171, February.
    11. repec:hrv:faseco:30747160 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. François Bourguignon & Martin Fournier & Marc Gurgand, 1999. "Fast Development with a Stable Income Distribution : Taiwan, 1979-1994," Working Papers 99-21, Center for Research in Economics and Statistics.
    13. Fleurbaey, Marc, 1995. "Equal Opportunity or Equal Social Outcome?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(01), pages 25-55, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. repec:dau:papers:123456789/4390 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Denis COGNEAU, 2012. "The Political Dimension Of Inequality During Economic Development," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, vol. 35, pages 11-36.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Distributive Justice; Inequality; Equality of Opportunity; Meritocracy; Political Economy; Development; Equity; Separation of Powers; Justice distributive; Inégalité; Egalité des chances; Méritocratie; Economie politique; Développement; Equité; Séparation des pouvoirs.;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • P50 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:dia:wpaper:dt200501. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Loic Le Pezennec). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/diallfr.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.