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Equalizing Opportunities through Public Education when Innate Abilities are Unobservable

Laurence Kranich ()

Discussion Papers from University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics

Abstract: This paper considers the problem of equalizing opportunities among agents who differ in both their tastes and innate productive abilities when these characteristics are unobservable. The government specifically wishes to offset the effects of differences in innate talents by affording public education to those with lesser skills. First, I consider the benchmark case involving complete information where I observe that it is possible to fully equalize opportunities as defined axiomatically by Bossert and Fleurbaey. However, in the incomplete information case, while it is possible to implement any input progressive education policy, it is not possible to afford equal opportunities. I conclude with an example demonstrating the alternative, social welfare function approach, which I argue is more suitable for second-best analysis.

Date: 1998
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Working Paper: Equalizing opportunities through public education when innate abilities are unobservable (1997) Downloads
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