Social Choice and Welfare

, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 607–631 | Cite as

Accounting for the spouse when measuring inequality of opportunity

  • Andreas Peichl
  • Martin Ungerer
Original Paper


The existing literature on inequality of opportunity (IOp) has not addressed the question of how the circumstances and choices of spouses in a couple should be treated. By omitting information relevant to the spouse in IOp estimations, the implicit assumption has been full responsibility for the spouse’s income, effort and circumstance variables. In this paper, we discuss whether or not the spouse’s characteristics should be treated as responsibility factors. Using German micro data, we analyze empirically, how IOp estimates are affected when a spouse’s circumstance or effort variables are included in the analysis. We find that including spousal variables can increase IOp measures by more than 20 (35) percent for gross (net) earnings. The less responsibility assumed for the partner’s variables, the higher the IOp estimate.


Labor Supply Assortative Mating Baseline Case Inequality Measure Annual Earning 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Supplementary material

355_2016_985_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (100 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 100 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ZEW, University of Mannheim, IZA and CESifoMannheimGermany
  2. 2.ZEW and University of CologneCologneGermany

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