IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/inq/inqwps/ecineq2014-338.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

How useful is inequality of opportunity as a policy construct?

Author

Listed:
  • Ravi Kanbur

    (Cornell University)

  • Adam Wagstaff

    (The World Bank)

Abstract

The academic literature on equality of opportunity has burgeoned. More recently, the concepts and measures have begun to be used by policy institutions, including in specific sectors like health and education. Indeed, it is argued that one advantage of focusing on equality of opportunity is that policy makers are more responsive to that discourse than on equality of outcomes per se. This paper presents a critique of equality of opportunity in the policy context. While the empirical analysis to which the literature has given rise is useful and is to be welcomed, current methods for quantifying and implementing the concept with a view to informing the policy discourse face a series of fundamental questions that remain unanswered. Without a full appreciation of these difficulties, these methods may prove to be misleading in the policy context.

Suggested Citation

  • Ravi Kanbur & Adam Wagstaff, 2014. "How useful is inequality of opportunity as a policy construct?," Working Papers 338, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  • Handle: RePEc:inq:inqwps:ecineq2014-338
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.ecineq.org/milano/WP/ECINEQ2014-338.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Saavedra-Chanduví, Jaime & Molinas, José R. & De Barros, Ricardo Paes & Ferreira, Francisco H. G., 2011. "Measuring Inequality of Opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean," IDB Publications (Books), Inter-American Development Bank, number 361.
    2. François Bourguignon & Francisco Ferreira & Michael Walton, 2007. "Equity, efficiency and inequality traps: A research agenda," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 5(2), pages 235-256, August.
    3. 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.
    4. Anthony Atkinson, 2011. "On lateral thinking," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 9(3), pages 319-328, September.
    5. Ravi Kanbur, 2006. "The policy significance of inequality decompositions," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 4(3), pages 367-374, December.
    6. Ricardo Paes de Barros & Francisco H.G. Ferreira & Jose R. Molinas Vega & Jaime Saavedra Chanduvi, 2009. "Measuring Inequality of Opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2580, September.
    7. FLEURBAEY, Marc & SCHOKKAERT, Erik, 2011. "Equity in health and health care," LIDAM Discussion Papers CORE 2011026, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    8. repec:idb:brikps:60098 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Erwin Ooghe & Erik Schokkaert & Dirk gaer, 2007. "Equality of Opportunity versus Equality of Opportunity Sets," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 28(2), pages 209-230, February.
    10. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
    11. Milton Friedman, 1953. "Choice, Chance, and the Personal Distribution of Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61, pages 277-277.
    12. Vito Peragine, 2004. "Measuring and implementing equality of opportunity for income," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 22(1), pages 187-210, February.
    13. Milton Friedman & L. J. Savage, 1948. "The Utility Analysis of Choices Involving Risk," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 279-279.
    14. Culyer, A. J. & Wagstaff, Adam, 1993. "Equity and equality in health and health care," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 431-457, December.
    15. Bleichrodt, Han & van Doorslaer, Eddy, 2006. "A welfare economics foundation for health inequality measurement," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 945-957, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. How useful is inequality of opportunity as a policy construct?
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2014-10-23 16:28:30

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Paul Hufe & Andreas Peichl, 2020. "Beyond Equal Rights: Equality of Opportunity in Political Participation," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 66(3), pages 477-511, September.
    2. David Madden, 2018. "Bridging the gaps: inequalities in children’s educational outcomes in Ireland," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 16(1), pages 103-122, March.
    3. Lara Ibarra,Gabriel & Martinez Cruz,Adan L., 2015. "Exploring the sources of downward bias in measuring inequality of opportunity," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7458, The World Bank.
    4. Balcázar, Carlos Felipe, 2015. "Lower bounds on inequality of opportunity and measurement error," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 102-105.
    5. Arturo Martinez Jr. & Tina Rampino & Mark Western & Wojtek Tomaszewski & Jude David Roque, 2017. "Estimating the Contribution of Circumstances that Reflect Inequality of Opportunities," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 36(4), pages 380-400, December.
    6. Hufe, Paul & Peichl, Andreas & Weishaar, Daniel, 2021. "Lower and Upper Bound Estimates of Inequality of Opportunity for Emerging Economies," IZA Discussion Papers 14680, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Krafft, Caroline & Alawode, Halimat, 2018. "Inequality of opportunity in higher education in the Middle East and North Africa," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 234-244.
    8. Jeffrey Zax, 2016. "Provincial valuations of human capital in urban China, inter-regional inequality and the implicit value of a Guangdong hukou," ERSA conference papers ersa16p693, European Regional Science Association.
    9. Paolo Brunori, 2016. "Review of Joseph Fishkin 's Bottlenecks: A New Theory of Equal Opportunity," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 62(1), pages 198-205, March.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Marc Fleurbaey & Vito Peragine, 2013. "Ex Ante Versus Ex Post Equality of Opportunity," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 80(317), pages 118-130, January.
    2. Ferreira, Francisco H. G. & Peragine, Vito, 2015. "Equality of Opportunity: Theory and Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 8994, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Luis Fernando Gamboa & Erika Londoño, 2015. "Assessing Educational Unfair Inequalities at a Regional Level in Colombia," Lecturas de Economía, Universidad de Antioquia, Departamento de Economía, issue 83, pages 97-133, Julio - D.
    4. Davillas, Apostolos & Jones, Andrew M, 2020. "Ex ante inequality of opportunity in health, decomposition and distributional analysis of biomarkers," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(C).
    5. Ravi Kanbur, 2017. "Citizenship, Migration and Opportunity," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(4), pages 429-441, October.
    6. Paul Hufe & Andreas Peichl, 2020. "Beyond Equal Rights: Equality of Opportunity in Political Participation," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 66(3), pages 477-511, September.
    7. Marrero, Gustavo A. & Rodríguez, Juan G., 2013. "Inequality of opportunity and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 107-122.
    8. Kanbur, Ravi, 2013. "Economic Inequality and Economic Development: Lessons and Implications of Global Experiences for the Arab World," Working Papers 180077, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
    9. Jane Golley & Yixiao Zhou & Meiyan Wang, 2019. "Inequality of Opportunity in China's Labor Earnings: The Gender Dimension," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 27(1), pages 28-50, January.
    10. Flaviana Palmisano & Vito Peragine & Federico Biagi, 2019. "Inequality of opportunity in tertiary education in Europe," JRC Working Papers JRC118543, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    11. Martin Ravallion, 2015. "Inequality when Effort Matters," NBER Working Papers 21394, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Luis Fernando Gamboa & Fábio D. Waltenberg, 2011. "Inequality of opportunity in educational achievement in Latin America: Evidence from PISA 2006-2009," Working Papers 206, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    13. Umut Turk & John Östh, 2017. "Inequality of Opportunity in Sweden:A Spatial Perspective," Working Papers 09/2017, University of Verona, Department of Economics.
    14. Frank-Borge Wietzke, 2015. "Who Is Poorest? An Asset-based Analysis of Multidimensional Wellbeing," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 33(1), pages 33-59, January.
    15. Saidi Anis & Hamdaoui Mekki, 0. "Level of Fairness and Justice in Labor Market: Evidence from Tunisia Post-Revolution," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer;Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET), vol. 0, pages 1-28.
    16. Paolo Brunori & Alain Trannoy & Caterina Francesca Guidi, 2021. "Ranking populations in terms of inequality of health opportunity: A flexible latent type approach," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(2), pages 358-383, February.
    17. Djavad Salehi-Isfahani & Nadia Hassine & Ragui Assaad, 2014. "Equality of opportunity in educational achievement in the Middle East and North Africa," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 12(4), pages 489-515, December.
    18. Vito Peragine & Federico Biagi, 2019. "Equality of opportunity: theory, measurement and policy implications," JRC Working Papers JRC118542, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    19. Sandmo, Agnar, 2013. "The principal problem in political economy: income distribution in the history of economic thought," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 15/2013, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
    20. Juan Javier Santos Ochoa, 2016. "Desigualdad de oportunidad en educación e ingresos laborales en México," Graduate theses (Spanish) TESG 004, CIDE, División de Economía.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inq:inqwps:ecineq2014-338. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/ecineea.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Maria Ana Lugo (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/ecineea.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.