Does high income inequality signify inequality of opportunities?
It is often presumed that Gini coefficient values taken to reflect high income inequality are largely due to some combination of socioeconomic factors that gives rise to inequality of opportunities. We demonstrate, using computer simulations, that practically every Gini value within the entire range observed in state economies can be approximated by at least one of a set of possible models of an economy in which earning is totally due to random factors. Although that clearly does not prove that opportunities are in reality fairly equal, it does suggest that inequality of opportunities is not necessary for high income inequality. At the least, it relegates the burden of proof to whoever ascribes the latter largely to the former.
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- Sen, Amartya, 1997. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292975, March.
- Tomes, Nigel, 1981. "The Family, Inheritance, and the Intergenerational Transmission of Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 928-58, October.
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- Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "Income Inequality In The United States, 1913-1998," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 1-39, February.
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