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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
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3816
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  1. 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.
  2. Atkinson, A B, 1997. "Bringing Income Distribution in from the Cold," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(441), pages 297-321, March.
  3. Fernandez, Raquel & Gali, Jordi, 1997. "To Each According to ...?: Markets, Tournaments, and The Matching Problem with Borrowing Constraints," Working Papers 97-11, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  4. Emily Oster, 2005. "Hepatitis B and the Case of the Missing Women," Working Papers id:266, eSocialSciences.
  5. Christina Paxson & Norbert Schady, 2005. "Cognitive Development Among Young Children in Ecuador: The Roles of Wealth, Health and Parenting," Working Papers 239, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  6. 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.
  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. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 2013. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Working Papers 2013-12, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  9. Hongyi Li & Heng-fu Zou, 1998. "Income Inequality Is Not Harmful for Growth: Theory and Evidence," CEMA Working Papers 74, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  10. Donal O'Neill & Olive Sweetman & Dirk van de gaer, 1999. "Equiality 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.
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