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Inequality of Opportunity for Income in Five Countries of Africa

  • Denis Cogneau


    (DIAL, IRD, Paris)

  • Sandrine Mesplé-Somps


    (DIAL, IRD, Paris)

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. _________________________________ Ce papier analyse, pour la première fois en Afrique, les inégalités de chance en termes de revenu. Cinq pays sont étudiés, à savoir la Côte d’Ivoire, le Ghana, la Guinée, Madagascar et l’Ouganda à partir d’enquêtes représentatives au niveau national contenant des informations sur les origines sociales de chaque individu. Nous calculons les différents indices d’inégalités de chance proposés par la littérature et nous proposons une décomposition des différences d’inégalités de chance entre pays. Cette décomposition distingue les influences respectives des différences dans la mobilité sociale intergénérationnelle, dans la structure de l'éducation et des professions et enfin dans les échelles de rémunération. Il apparaît que parmi les cinq pays étudiés, le Ghana en 1988 est le pays dans lequel l'inégalité de revenu entre origines sociales est la plus faible, tandis que c’est à Madagascar en 1993 qu’elle est la plus élevée. Les positions intermédiaires respectives du Ghana en 1998, de la Côte d'Ivoire en 1985-88, de la Guinée en 1994 et de l’Ouganda en 1992 ne peuvent pas être classées de manière robuste. L'inégalité des chances en termes de revenu semble plus corrélée avec l'inégalité de revenu globale qu’avec le niveau de revenu moyen par tête. La décomposition des inégalités de chances montre que la mobilité intergénérationnelle est plus élevée dans les deux anciennes colonies britanniques (le Ghana et l’Ouganda) que dans les trois anciennes colonies françaises. De plus, le Ghana se distingue des quatre autres pays par une plus large diffusion de l’enseignement primaire et secondaire, des rendements bas de l’éducation, et un faible dualisme entre le secteur agricole et les autres secteurs. Il n’en demeure pas moins que le fait d’être né au Nord du pays diminue fortement les opportunités de revenu, de même qu'en Côte d'Ivoire.

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Paper provided by DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation) in its series Working Papers with number DT/2008/04.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dia:wpaper:dt200804
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