To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Chapter 9 Inequality of Opportunity in the United States: Trends and Decomposition

Inequality of Opportunity: Theory and Measurement

ISBN: 978-1-78052-034-6, eISBN: 978-1-78052-035-3

ISSN: 1049-2585

Publication date: 26 October 2011

Abstract

Purpose – Our ultimate goal is to characterize three methodological issues. First, compare the relative performance of alternative estimation methods for long time series, second, estimate the degree of correlation between effort and circumstances, and, third, decompose total inequality into inequality of opportunity and inequality of effort according to an ideal tree.

Methodology – We estimate parametrically and nonparametrically the ex-ante inequality of opportunity in the United States between 1969 and 2007. The degree of correlation between effort and circumstances is computed following the proposal in Björklund et al. (2011). In addition, we decompose total inequality based on an ideal tree with three levels of disaggregation by applying the natural decomposition of the squared coefficient of variation and the Nested Shapley value.

Findings – We find significant differences between the nonparametric and parametric approaches. In particular, our results reveal that considering cross-effects between circumstances may be relevant. Moreover, the degree of correlation between effort and circumstances which has significantly increased over the period 1969 and 2007 in the United States, explains between 5% and 20% of total IO. In addition, race is the main circumstance during the 1970s and 1980s, accounting for more than 50% of the direct IO, while parental education take the lead in the last two decades.

Originality – We modify the parametric specification by considering cross-effects between circumstances. We estimate the degree of correlation between effort and circumstances for long time series. We decompose total inequality according to a three-level hierarchical model.

Keywords

Citation

Marrero, G.A. and Rodríguez, J.G. (2011), "Chapter 9 Inequality of Opportunity in the United States: Trends and Decomposition", Gabriel Rodríguez, J. (Ed.) Inequality of Opportunity: Theory and Measurement (Research on Economic Inequality, Vol. 19), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 217-246. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1049-2585(2011)0000019012

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited