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Quantifying the Progress of Economic and Social Justice: Charting Changes in Equality of Opportunity in the USA, 1960–2000

Gordon Anderson and Teng Wah Leo ()

Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 2017, vol. 18, issue 1, 17-45

Abstract: The notion of equality of opportunity (EO) has pervaded much of economic and social justice policy, and research over the last half century. The sense that differences in agent outcomes that are the consequence of their individual choice and effort are acceptable whereas variation in agent outcomes that are the consequence of circumstances beyond their control are not has underpinned much gender, race, education, and family law and policy over that period, making it a many-dimensioned issue. In this context, the empirical analysis of EO has been hampered in the sense that the usual techniques are one-dimensional in nature. Here a new approach to evaluating levels of and changes in EO which readily accommodates these many dimensions is introduced, and progress in the extent of EO for 18-year-olds in the USA is examined over the period 1960–2000. The evidence is that gains were made in all categories throughout the period, more so for males than females (though females were better off in an EO sense to start with), more so for children in single parent circumstances, and more so for the poorly endowed.

Date: 2017
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DOI: 10.1080/19452829.2015.1115393

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