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Inequality of opportunity and economic development

  • Ferreira, Francisco H. G.
  • Walton, Michael

Just as equality of opportunity becomes an increasingly prominent concept in normative economics, the authors argue that it is also a relevant concept for positive models of the links between distribution and aggregate efficiency. Persuasive microeconomic evidence suggests that inequalities in wealth, power, and status have efficiency costs. These variablescapture different aspects of people's opportunity sets, for which observed income may be a poor proxy. One implication is that the cross-country literature on income inequality and growth may have been barking up the wrong tree, and that alternative measures of the relevant distributions are needed. The authors review some of the detailed microeconomic evidence, and then suggest three research areas where further work is needed.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3816.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2006
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3816
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  1. Raquel Fernández & Jordi Gali, 1999. "To Each According to …? Markets, Tournaments, and the Matching Problem with Borrowing Constraints," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(4), pages 799-824.
  2. Donal O'Neill & Olive Sweetman & Dirk van de gaer, 1999. "Equality of Opportunity and Kernel Density Estimation: An Application to Intergenerational Mobility," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n950999, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
  3. Paxson, Christina & Schady, Norbert, 2005. "Cognitive development among young children in Ecuador : the roles of wealth, health and parenting," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3605, The World Bank.
  4. Emily Oster, 2005. "Hepatitis B and the Case of the Missing Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1163-1216, December.
  5. Li, Hongyi & Zou, Heng-fu, 1998. "Income Inequality Is Not Harmful for Growth: Theory and Evidence," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(3), pages 318-34, October.
  6. Atkinson, A-B, 1996. "Bringing Income Distribution in from the Cold," Economics Papers 117, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  7. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Duflo, Esther, 2003. "Inequality and Growth: What Can the Data Say?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 267-99, September.
  8. Denis Cogneau & Jérémie Gignoux, 2005. "Earnings Inequalities and Educational Mobility in Brazil over Two Decades," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 121, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.
  9. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52.
  10. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Paul J. Gertler & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2002. "Empowerment and Efficiency: Tenancy Reform in West Bengal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 239-280, April.
  11. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
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