Equality of Opportunity and the Distribution of Long-Run Income in Sweden

34 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2011

See all articles by Anders Bjorklund

Anders Bjorklund

Stockholm University; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Markus Jantti

Stockholm University

John E. Roemer

Yale University - Department of Political Science; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Date Written: January 1, 2011

Abstract

Equality of opportunity is an ethical goal with almost universal appeal. The interpretation taken here is that a society has achieved equality of opportunity if it is the case that what individuals accomplish, with respect to some desirable objective, is determined wholly by their choices and personal effort, rather than by circumstances beyond their control. We use data for Swedish men born between 1955 and 1967 for whom we measure the distribution of long-run income, as well as several important background circumstances, such as parental education and income, family structure and own IQ before adulthood. We address the question: in Sweden, given its present constellation of social policies and institutions, to what extent is existing income inequality due to circumstances, as opposed to 'effort'? Our results suggest that several circumstances, importantly both parental income and own IQ, are important for long-run income inequality, but that variations in individual effort account for the most part of that inequality.

Keywords: equality of opportunity, family background, inequality, long-run income

JEL Classification: D31, D63, J62, C14

Suggested Citation

Bjorklund, Anders and Jantti, Markus and Roemer, John E., Equality of Opportunity and the Distribution of Long-Run Income in Sweden (January 1, 2011). IZA Discussion Paper No. 5466. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1756004

Anders Bjorklund (Contact Author)

Stockholm University ( email )

Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI)
S-106 91 Stockholm
Sweden
+46 8 163452 (Phone)
+46 8 154670 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Markus Jantti

Stockholm University ( email )

Swedish Institute for Social Research
Stockholm, SE-10691
Sweden
+468162645 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.abo.fi/~mjantti/

John E. Roemer

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
United States
203-432-5249 (Phone)
203-432-6196 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://pantheon.yale.edu/~jer39/

Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

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