Equality of Opportunity

Chance, Merit, and Economic Inequality: Rethinking Distributive Justice and the Principle of Desert

This book develops a novel approach to distributive justice by building a theory based on a concept of desert. As a work of applied political theory, it presents a simple but powerful theoretical argument and a detailed proposal to eliminate …

The Threat of Inequality of Opportunity

There are clashing views on the relationship between income inequality and growth. Some have pointed to at least some measure of inequality as a necessary outcome of the rewards to innovation and risk-taking. Others have argued that excessive income …

What's the Point of Equal Opportunity for Education?

Many discussions of equal opportunity focus on equal opportunity for education. This focus is even more emphasized in policy discussions of equal opportunity. Yet, what is the purpose of this kind of equal opportunity? There are two generic reasons why something is good: it is either intrinsically good or instrumentally good. The first kind of good is simply good in and of itself. The second kind of good is only good because it does in fact lead to the first kind of good.

Life Expectancy: A New Wrinkle for Equal Opportunity Policy

Are differences in life expectancy something we ought to account for in equal opportunity policies? Although this is not often discussed in the literature, my intuition is that the answer is yes. Furthermore, it is not merely a hypothetical issue—advances in medical technologies have sharply mitigated the great leveller, but only for those who can pay. The Plague of Justinian (541–542), the first known pandemic on record,1 the Black Death in the fourteenth century, and the 1918 influenza pandemic are all evidence of infectious disease that did not discriminate much between king and pauper.

Two Kinds of Equal Opportunity Outcomes

Robinson, Azerrad, and Matthews have each argued that equality of opportunity would represent a “dystopian, totalitarian nightmare” and even that it is “impossible.”1 The underlying argument seems to be the following: In the relevant population, there is diversity of body, character, parents, etc. at some time period, \(t\). Difference between individuals A and B at time, \(t\), means they do not have equality of opportunity for outcome Y at time, \(t+k\) (e.

The Economist Who Would Fix the American Dream

The work that has brought Chetty such fame is an echo of his family’s history. He has pioneered an approach that uses newly available sources of government data to show how American families fare across generations, revealing striking patterns of upward mobility and stagnation. In one early study, he showed that children born in 1940 had a 90 percent chance of earning more than their parents, but for children born four decades later, that chance had fallen to 50 percent, a toss of a coin.

Equality of Opportunity

Americans believe in equal opportunity. Surveys consistently find 90% of the public agreeing that “our society should do what is necessary to make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed,” as figure 1 shows. This level of support is …

The radical moral implications of luck in human life

In July 2018 (when we first published this piece), there was a minor uproar when Kardashian scion Kylie Jenner, who is all of 21, appeared on the cover of Forbes’s 60 richest self-made women issue. As many people pointed out, Jenner’s success would have been impossible if she hadn’t been born white, healthy, rich, and famous. She built a successful cosmetics company—now valued at $900 million, according to Forbes—not just with hard work but on a towering foundation of good luck.

The Radicalism of “Equal Opportunity”

You will often hear a distinction drawn between two different kinds of equality: equality of “opportunity” and equality of “outcome.” The people who draw this distinction often say that they believe in the former but not the latter. Equality of “opportunity” is desirable, but equality of “outcome” is not. As they frame it, one of these is fairly basic while the other is radical and frightening. If we were to try to ensure equal “outcomes” we would have to create a colossal social transformation.

Inequality of Opportunity, Inequality of Income and Economic Growth

We posit that the relationship between income inequality and economic growth is mediated by the level of equality of opportunity, which we identify with intergenerational mobility. In economies characterized by intergenerational rigidities, an …