Decomposing inequality `at work’

Working Paper 2015-357


We propose a structural model to estimate inequality of opportunity (IOp) among workers and to distinguish two different sources of inequality: (i) inequality in the labour attachment and (ii) inequality in the remuneration of each working hour. Considering working hours as a measure of effort, our model can also be conceived as an attempt of disentangling the direct from the indirect contribution of circumstances to IOp. We estimate a system of seemingly unrelated regression equations and we use an original identification strategy based on a local market condition variable acting as exclusion restriction. By using data from the 2011 wave of the EU-SILC data base, we find in general a strong positive direct effect and a negative indirect effect of circumstances on overall IOp. Moreover, we are able to identify three cluster of countries: a first cluster includes continental countries (Italy, Spain, France) and Sweden, which show a low degree of IOp. A second cluster shows “moderate” levels of IOp and includes Finland and United Kingdom. A third cluster of countries shows the highest levels of IOp and includes all eastern countries.

Authors: Vincenzo Carrieri, Vito Peragine.

Keywords: Inequality of Opportunity, income inequality, labour attachment.
JEL: D60, D63, J62.