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Equity, efficiency and inequality traps: A research agenda

Abstract

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.

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Correspondence to Francisco H. G. Ferreira.

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Bourguignon and Ferreira are in the Development Economics Vice-Presidency, The World Bank. Michael Walton is at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Together, they led the team that produced the World Bank’s World Development Report 2006: Equity and Development.

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Bourguignon, F., Ferreira, F.H.G. & Walton, M. Equity, efficiency and inequality traps: A research agenda. J Econ Inequal 5, 235–256 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10888-006-9042-8

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Key words

  • equity
  • equality of opportunity
  • inequality traps.