Equalization of Opportunity: Definitions, Implementable Conditions and Application to Early-Childhood Policy Evaluation

Francesco Andreoli, Tarjei Havnes, Arnaud Lefranc.

IZA DP No. 8503

This paper develops a criterion to assess equalization of opportunity that is consistent with
theoretical views of equality of opportunity. We characterize inequality of opportunity as a
situation where some groups in society enjoy an illegitimate advantage. In this context,
equalization of opportunity requires that the extent of the illegitimate advantage enjoyed by
the privileged groups falls. Robustness requires that this judgement be supported by the
broadest class of individual preferences. We formalize this criterion in a decision theoretic
framework, and derive an empirical condition for equalization of opportunity based on observed opportunity distributions. The criterion is used to assess the effectiveness of childcare at equalizing opportunity among children, using quantile treatment effects estimates of a major child care reform in Norway.

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Published Aug. 4, 2015 3:57 PM - Last modified Apr. 24, 2019 1:27 AM