Economic theory and practical lessons for measuring equal opportunities

High Level Expert Group Workshop on Inequality of Opportunity January 2015 Paris OECD
High-Level Expert Group, January 2015, Paris

I’ve written a working paper based upon a presentation I made in January 2015 to a workshop on “Inequality of Opportunity” held by the High-Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress. The OECD, which was one of the organizations co-hosting the workshop, is currently reviewing the paper for publication.

You can download the current draft here, and I’d invite any comments before it is finalized and officially released.

You can view the workshop agenda and all the presentations here. The broader program of the Expert Group, which includes the development of “distributional National Accounts”—national accounting that recognizes inequality and the distribution of income—can be found at this link.

What follows for quick reference is the introduction of my paper. If you have a chance to read the whole thing and have some thoughts to make it better, feel free to include your suggestions in the comment section at the end of this post, or email them to me.

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The US Senate wonders about tax policy for the American Dream: why are schools failing to promote social mobility?

The American education system is of relatively more advantage to the relatively advantaged. As a result it does less than it could to promote opportunity.

In response to my July 10th testimony to the Senate Committee on Finance hearing on “Helping Young People Achieve the American Dream” I received some homework, a series of questions asking me for a good deal more detail. You can review all of the questions on my November 11th post, but a couple of questions posed by the Committee Chairman, Senator Max Baucus of Montana, speak to probably the most important driver of social mobility, and raise particularly important issues for public policies.

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Understanding inequality and what to do about it

Inequality has been increasing in most countries, in part because top 1% are capturing a higher fraction of all earnings but also for other reasons. I made a presentation to the Occupied Ottawa conference “Take Back Democracy!” on June 2nd, 2012. The presentation explores three issues in search of intelligent conversation, and in order to accomplish something constructive: description, explanation, and prescription.

You can download it as a pdf here: Understanding inequality and what to do about it .

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Inequality and CEO compensation are more important than the CBC suggests

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s senior correspondent Terry Milewski does a disservice in conveying the facts about inequality in his coverage of the now infamous report released earlier this week by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The report graphically documents the income gap between top earners and the rest of the population, the so-called average Joe, by pointing out that by noon on January 3rd—the first working day of the year—the top 100 CEOs in the country made as much as the average Canadian will during the entire year.

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