Measurement of inequality of opportunity: A normative approach

Kristof Bosmans*, Z. Emel Özturk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We develop a normative approach to the measurement of inequality of opportunity. That is, we measure inequality of opportunity by the welfare gain obtained in moving from the actual income distribution to the optimal income distribution of the total available income. Our study brings together the main approaches in the literature: we axiomatically characterize social welfare functions, we obtain prominent allocation rules as their optima, and we derive familiar classes of inequality of opportunity measures. Our analysis captures moreover the key philosophical distinctions in the literature: ex post versus ex ante compensation, and liberal versus utilitarian reward.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-237
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Economic Inequality
Issue number2
Early online date2 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Inequality of opportunity
  • Income inequality
  • Responsibility
  • Social welfare

Cite this