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Inequality Of Opportunities Vs. Inequality Of Outcomes: Are Western Societies All Alike?

Author

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  • Arnaud Lefranc

    () (THEMA - Théorie économique, modélisation et applications - UCP - Université de Cergy Pontoise - Université Paris-Seine - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Nicolas Pistolesi
  • Alain Trannoy

    (EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales)

Abstract

This paper analyzes the relationship between income inequality and inequality of opportunities for income acquisition in nine developed countries during the 1990s. Equality of opportunity is defined as the situation where income distributions conditional on social origin cannot be ranked according to stochastic dominance criteria. We measure social origin by parental education and occupation and use the database built by Roemer et al. (2003). Stochastic dominance is assessed using nonparametric statistical tests. Our results indicate strong disparities in the degree of equality of opportunity across countries and a strong correlation between inequality of outcomes and inequality of opportunity. The U.S. and Italy show up as the most unequal countries in terms of both outcome and opportunity. At the opposite extreme, income distributions conditional on social origin are almost the same in Scan-dinavian countries even before any redistributive policy. We complement the ordinal comparison by resorting to an original scalar " Gini " index of opportunities, which can be decomposed into a risk and a return component. In our sample, inequality of opportunity is mostly driven by differences in mean income conditional on social origin, and differences in risk compensate the return element in most countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Arnaud Lefranc & Nicolas Pistolesi & Alain Trannoy, 2008. "Inequality Of Opportunities Vs. Inequality Of Outcomes: Are Western Societies All Alike?," Post-Print hal-01650720, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-01650720
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4991.2008.00289.x
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01650720
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    File URL: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01650720/document
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Van de Gaer, Dirk & Schokkaert, Erik & Martinez, Michel, 2001. "Three Meanings of Intergenerational Mobility," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(272), pages 519-537, November.
    2. repec:dau:papers:123456789/1552 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. 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.
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    6. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Paolo Li Donni & Vito Peragine & Giuseppe Pignataro, 2014. "Ex‐Ante And Ex‐Post Measurement Of Equality Of Opportunity In Health: A Normative Decomposition," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(2), pages 182-198, February.
    2. Francisco Ferreira & Vito Peragine, 2015. "Equality of Opportunity: Theory and Evidence," SERIES 02-2015, Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza - Università degli Studi di Bari "Aldo Moro", revised Jan 2015.
    3. Alain Trannoy & Sandy Tubeuf & Florence Jusot & Marion Devaux, 2010. "Inequality of opportunities in health in France: a first pass," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(8), pages 921-938, August.
    4. 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.
    5. Felipe Rivera, 2017. "Health opportunities in Colombia," Lecturas de Economía, Universidad de Antioquia, Departamento de Economía, issue 87, pages 125-164, Julio - D.
    6. Pilar García‐Gómez & Erik Schokkaert & Tom Van Ourti & Teresa Bago d'Uva, 2015. "Inequity in the Face of Death," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(10), pages 1348-1367, October.
    7. Patrizia Luongo, 2015. "Inequality of Opportunity in Educational Achievements: Cross-country and Intertemporal Comparisons," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2015-043, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    8. Cojocaru, Alexandru, 2014. "Fairness and inequality tolerance: Evidence from the Life in Transition Survey," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 590-608.
    9. Chen, Xi & Yan, Binjian & Gill, Thomas M., 2020. "Childhood Circumstances and Health Inequality in Old Age: Comparative Evidence from China and the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 13460, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Rivera Triviño, Andrés Felipe, 2017. "Health opportunities in Colombia," Revista Lecturas de Economía, Universidad de Antioquia - CIE, issue 87, pages 125-164, March.

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