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Inequality of Opportunity in Health and the Principle of Natural Reward: evidence from European Countries

Author

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  • Damien Bricard

    () (LEDa - Laboratoire d'Economie de Dauphine - IRD - Institut de Recherche pour le Développement - Université Paris-Dauphine - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Florence Jusot

    (LEDa - Laboratoire d'Economie de Dauphine - IRD - Institut de Recherche pour le Développement - Université Paris-Dauphine - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • 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)

  • Sandy Tubeuf

    (AUTRES)

Abstract

This paper aims to quantify and compare inequalities of opportunity in health across European countries considering two alternative normative ways of treating the correlation between effort, as measured by lifestyles, and circumstances, as measured by parental and childhood characteristics, championed by Brian Barry and John Roemer. This study relies on regression analysis and proposed several measures of inequality of opportunities. Data from the Retrospective Survey of SHARELIFE, which focuses on life histories of European people aged 50 and over, are used. In Europe at the whole, inequalities in opportunities stand for almost 50% of the health inequality due to circumstances and efforts in Barry scenario and 57.5% in Roemer scenario. The comparison of the magnitude of inequalities of opportunity in health across European countries shows considerable inequalities in Austria, France, Spain, Germany, whereas Sweden, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland present the lowest inequalities of opportunities. The normative principle on the way to treat the correlation between circumstances and effort makes little difference in Spain, Austria, Greece, France, Czech Republic, Sweden and Switzerland whereas it would matter the most in Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Poland and Denmark. In most countries, inequalities of opportunity in health are mainly driven by social background affecting adult health directly, and so would require policies compensating for poorer initial conditions. On the other hand, our results suggest a strong social and family determinism of lifestyles in Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Poland and Denmark, which emphasises the importance of inequalities of opportunities in health within those countries and calls for targeted prevention policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Damien Bricard & Florence Jusot & Alain Trannoy & Sandy Tubeuf, 2017. "Inequality of Opportunity in Health and the Principle of Natural Reward: evidence from European Countries," Working Papers hal-01523949, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:hal-01523949
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01523949
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Sandy Tubeuf & Florence Jusot, 2011. "Social health inequalities among older Europeans: the contribution of social and family background," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 12(1), pages 61-77, February.
    2. Florence Jusot & Sandy Tubeuf & Alain Trannoy, 2013. "Circumstances And Efforts: How Important Is Their Correlation For The Measurement Of Inequality Of Opportunity In Health?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(12), pages 1470-1495, December.
    3. Pedro Rosa Dias, 2009. "Inequality of opportunity in health: evidence from a UK cohort study," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(9), pages 1057-1074.
    4. Fleurbaey, Marc, 2012. "Fairness, Responsibility, and Welfare," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199653591.
    5. 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.
    6. Arnaud Lefranc & Nicolas Pistolesi & Alain Trannoy, 2008. "Inequality Of Opportunities Vs. Inequality Of Outcomes: Are Western Societies All Alike?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 54(4), pages 513-546, December.
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    14. Pedro Rosa Dias, 2010. "Modelling opportunity in health under partial observability of circumstances," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(3), pages 252-264.
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    16. Pedro Rosa Dias & Andrew M. Jones, 2007. "Giving equality of opportunity a fair innings," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(2), pages 109-112.
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    Cited by:

    1. MUSSARD Stéphane & PI ALPERIN Maria Noel & THIREAU Véronique, 2016. "Aggregable Health Inequality Indices," LISER Working Paper Series 2016-11, LISER.
    2. Rafael Carranza & Daniel Hojman, 2015. "Inequality of Opportunity in Health and Cognitive Abilities: The Case of Chile," Working Papers wp410, University of Chile, Department of Economics.
    3. DEUTSCH Joseph & PI ALPERIN Maria Noel & SILBER Jacques, 2016. "Disentangling the impacts of circumstances and efforts on health inequality: the case of Luxembourg," LISER Working Paper Series 2016-07, LISER.
    4. John E. Roemer & Alain Trannoy, 2013. "Equality of Opportunity," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1921, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    5. repec:spr:soinre:v:138:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s11205-017-1690-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:spr:eujhec:v:19:y:2018:i:9:d:10.1007_s10198-018-0973-3 is not listed on IDEAS

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    Keywords

    Equality of opportunity; Principle of reward; Europe; health; inequality decomposition; efforts; circumstances;

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