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Mobility as Progressivity: Ranking Income Processes According to Equality of Opportunity

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  • R. Bénabou
  • E. Ok

Abstract

Interest in economic mobility stems largely from its perceived role as an equalizer of opportunities, though not necessarily of outcomes. In this paper we show that this view leads very naturally to a methodology for the measurement of social mobility which has strong parallels with the theory of progressive taxation. We characterize opportunity?equalizing mobility processes, and provide simple criteria to determine when one process is more equalizing than another. We then explain how this mobility ordering relates to social welfare analysis, and how it di�ers from existing ones. We also extend standard indices of tax progressivity to mobility processes, and illustrate our general methodology on intra- and intergenerational mobility data from the United States and Italy.
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Suggested Citation

  • R. Bénabou & E. Ok, 2000. "Mobility as Progressivity: Ranking Income Processes According to Equality of Opportunity," Princeton Economic Theory Papers 00f1, Economics Department, Princeton University.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:prinet:00f1
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    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
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion

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