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Education, Utilitarianism, and Equality of Opportunity


  • Villar Notario Antonio


  • Calo-Blanco Aitor



We analyze in this working paper the impact of different policies on the investment of families in the education of their children. In the model we present, families make decisions on the level of human capital of their offspring with a view to the future income that this capital will entail (under the assumption that higher education levels yield higher expected income). Families optimal investment in education depends on their preferences (summarized by their time discount and risk aversion parameters) and their circumstances (initial wealth, parents education, and children s natural abilities). The public authority designs a balanced tax/subsidy scheme in order to maximize aggregate welfare. We compare the case of a purely utilitarian planner with one that cares about the equality of opportunity.

Suggested Citation

  • Villar Notario Antonio & Calo-Blanco Aitor, 2009. "Education, Utilitarianism, and Equality of Opportunity," Working Papers 201051, Fundacion BBVA / BBVA Foundation.
  • Handle: RePEc:fbb:wpaper:201051

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Arnaud Lefranc & Nicolas Pistolesi & Alain Trannoy, 2006. "Equality of opportunity: Definitions and testable conditions, with an application to income in France," Working Papers 53, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    2. Hanushek, Eric A. & Leung, Charles Ka Yui & Yilmaz, Kuzey, 2003. "Redistribution through education and other transfer mechanisms," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(8), pages 1719-1750, November.
    3. James Heckman & Flavio Cunha, 2007. "The Technology of Skill Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 31-47, May.
    4. Calo-Blanco Aitor & Villar Notario Antonio, 2010. "Quality of Education and Equality of Opportunity in Spain: Lesson from Pisa," Working Papers 20104, Fundacion BBVA / BBVA Foundation.
    5. Roemer, John E. & Aaberge, Rolf & Colombino, Ugo & Fritzell, Johan & Jenkins, Stephen P. & Lefranc, Arnaud & Marx, Ive & Page, Marianne & Pommer, Evert & Ruiz-Castillo, Javier, 2003. "To what extent do fiscal regimes equalize opportunities for income acquisition among citizens?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(3-4), pages 539-565, March.
    6. Roemer, J.E., 1992. "A Pragmatic Theory of Responsibility for the Egalitarian Planner," Papers 391, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
    7. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
    8. Villar Antonio, 2005. "On the Welfare Evaluation of Income and Opportunity," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-21, June.
    9. Gianni De Fraja & Tania Oliveira & Luisa Zanchi, 2010. "Must Try Harder: Evaluating the Role of Effort in Educational Attainment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(3), pages 577-597, August.
    10. Yona Rubinstein & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Importance of Noncognitive Skills: Lessons from the GED Testing Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 145-149, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Aitor Calo, 2009. "Equality of opportunity and optimal effort decision under uncertainty," Working Papers. Serie AD 2009-12, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).

    More about this item


    Equality of opportunity; investment in education; public policy design.;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement


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