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Equality of opportunity and luck: Definitions and testable conditions, with an application to income in France

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 - L'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - School of Economics - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

Abstract

We offer a model of equality of opportunity that encompasses different conceptions expressed in the public and philosophical debates. In addition to circumstances whose effect on outcome should be compensated and effort which represents a legitimate source of inequality, we introduce a third factor, luck, that captures the non-responsibility factors whose impact on outcome should be even-handed for equality of opportunity to be satisfied. Then, we analyse how the various definitions of equality of opportunity can be empirically identified, given data limitations and provide testable conditions. Definitions and conditions resort to standard stochastic dominance tools. Lastly, we develop an empirical analysis of equality of opportunity for income acquisition in France over the period 1979-2000 which reveals that the degree of inequality of opportunity tends to decrease and that the degree of risk of income distributions, conditional on social origin, appears very similar across all groups of social origins. JEL Codes: D63, J62, C14

Suggested Citation

  • Arnaud Lefranc & Nicolas Pistolesi & Alain Trannoy, 2009. "Equality of opportunity and luck: Definitions and testable conditions, with an application to income in France ," Post-Print hal-01650733, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-01650733
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2009.07.008
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01650733
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Keywords

    Equality of opportunity; Income distribution; Luck; Stochastic dominance; JEL classification:; D63; J62; C14; Keywords:;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General

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