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The measurement of opportunity inequality: a cardinality-based approach

Efe Ok and Laurence Kranich ()

Social Choice and Welfare, 1998, vol. 15, issue 2, 263-287

Abstract: We consider the problem of ranking distributions of opportunity sets on the basis of equality. First, conditional on a given ranking of individual opportunity sets, we define the notion of an equalizing transformation. Then, assuming that the opportunity sets are ranked according to the cardinality ordering, we formulate the analogues of the notions of the Lorenz partial ordering, equalizing (Dalton) transfers, and inequality averse social welfare functions - concepts which play a central role in the literature on income inequality. Our main result is a cardinality-based analogue of the fundamental theorem of inequality measurement: one distribution Lorenz dominates another if and only if the former can be obtained from the latter by a finite sequence of rank preserving equalizations, and if and only if the former is ranked higher than the latter by all inequality averse social welfare functions. In addition, we characterize the smallest monotonic and transitive extension of our cardinality-based Lorenz inequality ordering.

Date: 1998-02-27
Note: Received: 2 May 1995 / Accepted: 11 October 1996
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