How Useful is Inequality of Opportunity as a Policy Construct?

20 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by Ravi Kanbur

Ravi Kanbur

Cornell University; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Adam Wagstaff

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 1, 2014

Abstract

The academic literature on equality of opportunity has burgeoned. The concepts and measures have begun to be used by policy institutions, including in specific sectors such as health and education. It is argued that one advantage of focusing on equality of opportunity is that policy makers are more responsive to that discourse than to equality of outcomes per se. This paper presents a critique of equality of opportunity in the policy context. Although the empirical analysis to which the literature has given rise is useful and is to be welcomed, current methods for quantifying and implementing the concept with a view to informing the policy discourse face a series of fundamental questions that remain unanswered. Without a full appreciation of these difficulties, the methods may prove to be misleading in the policy context.

Keywords: Education for Development (superceded), Education For All, Access & Equity in Basic Education, Educational Populations

Suggested Citation

Kanbur, Ravi and Wagstaff, Adam, How Useful is Inequality of Opportunity as a Policy Construct? (July 1, 2014). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 6980. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2475067

Ravi Kanbur (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

301-J Warren Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
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HOME PAGE: http://www.kanbur.dyson.cornell.edu

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

Adam Wagstaff

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States

HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/awagstaff

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