The Journal of Economic Inequality

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 235–256

Equity, efficiency and inequality traps: A research agenda

  • François Bourguignon
  • Francisco H. G. Ferreira
  • Michael Walton

DOI: 10.1007/s10888-006-9042-8

Cite this article as:
Bourguignon, F., Ferreira, F.H.G. & Walton, M. J Econ Inequal (2007) 5: 235. doi:10.1007/s10888-006-9042-8


This paper discusses a research agenda that arises from unanswered questions and unresolved issues considered in the World Bank’s World Development Report 2006: Equity and Development. After formalizing the key concepts of equity; equality of opportunity; and efficiency, and proposing a definition for an equitable development policy, the paper discusses the concept of inequality traps, around which the research agenda is structured. Four broad groups of research questions are highlighted: those revolving around the measurement of inequality of opportunity and the diagnostics for the existence of an inequality trap; those dealing with the causes of inequality traps; the quantification of their efficiency costs; and those related to how institutions (including governments) evolve to overcome inequality traps.

Key words

equityequality of opportunityinequality traps.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • François Bourguignon
    • 2
  • Francisco H. G. Ferreira
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michael Walton
    • 3
  1. 1.Development Research GroupThe World BankWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Development Economics Vice-PresidencyThe World BankWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.John F. Kennedy School of GovernmentHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA