Economic Justice

The complicated path to equal opportunity

IN A complaint filed last week, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund charged that the admissions procedures of Stuyvesant High School and other specialised high schools in New York City are “unsound and discriminatory” because the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT)—the sole factor in admissions—has yielded striking racial imbalances in the schools’ student bodies. They are asking the federal department of education to investigate: Year after year, thousands of academically talented African-American and Latino students who take the test are denied admission to the Specialized High Schools at rates far higher than those for other racial groups… For example, of the 967 eighth-grade students offered admission to Stuyvesant for the 2012-13 school year, just 19 (2%) of the students were African American and 32 (3.

Economic Mobility: Is the American Dream Alive and Well?

For more than two centuries, economic opportunity and the prospect of upward mobility have formed the bedrock upon which the American story has been anchored — inspiring people in distant lands to seek our shores and sustaining the unwavering …

Inequality and the American Dream

MORE than any other country, America defines itself by a collective dream: the dream of economic opportunity and upward mobility. Its proudest boast is that it offers a chance of the good life to everybody who is willing to work hard and play by the rules. This ideal has made the United States the world’s strongest magnet for immigrants; it has also reconciled ordinary Americans to the rough side of a dynamic economy, with all its inequalities and insecurities.

The Myth of Ownership: Taxes and Justice

In a capitalist economy, taxes are the most important instrument by which the political system puts into practice a conception of economic and distributive justice. Taxes arouse strong passions, fueled not only by conflicts of economic self-interest, …

Equality of Opportunity

Roemer argues that there is consequently a “before” and an “after” in the notion of equality of opportunity: before the competition starts, opportunities must be equalized, by social intervention if need be; but after it begins, individuals are on their own. The different views of equal opportunity should be judged according to where they place the starting gate which separates “before” from “after.” Roemer works out in a precise way how to determine the location of the starting gate in the different views.


Equality has long been among the most potent of human ideals and it continues to play a prominent role in political argument. Views about equality inform much of the debate about wide-ranging issues such as racism, sexism, obligations to the poor or …