Measuring Long-Term Inequality of Opportunity
30 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2010
In this paper, we introduce and apply a general framework for evaluating long-term income distributions according to the Equality of Opportunity principle. Our framework allows for both an ex-ante and an ex-post approach to EOp. Our ex-post approach relies on a permanent income measure defined as the minimum annual expenditure an individual would need in order to be as well off as he could be by undertaking inter-period income transfers. There is long-term ex-post inequality of opportunity if individuals who exert the same effort have different permanent incomes. In comparison, the ex-ante approach focuses on the expected permanent income for individuals with identical circumstances. Hence, the ex-ante approach pays attention to inequalities in expected permanent income between different types of individuals. To demonstrate the empirical relevance of a long-run perspective on EOp, we exploit a unique panel data from Norway on individuals' incomes over their working lifespan.
Keywords: equality of opportunity, social welfare, inequality, permanent income, intertemporal choice, ex-ante, ex-post
JEL Classification: D71, D91, I32
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