Inequality of Opportunity in Spain: New Insights from New Data

5542, febrero de 2020.


1. Introduction

Income inequality has significantly increased in Spain since 2002. According to The
Standardized World Income Inequality Database (SWIID), the Gini index of disposable income
went from 30.0 in 2002 to 34.2 in 2016 (Solt, 2019). This increase of more than four
points has been the largest increase in inequality in Europe since 2002 (see Figure 1 for
an international comparison). In fact, Spain shows after Bulgary (with a Gini index equal to 35.0)
the largest inequality of disposable income in Europe in 2016. It is interesting to note that
this increase of inequality in Spain has occurred before, during and after the Great Recession
(1.8 points of increase from 2002 to 2007 and 2.4 points of increase from 2007 to 2016), so
it cannot be entirely blamed for the upward inequality trend observed in Spain during these
years. At this point, we wonder to what extent these data on Spain are worrisome. The literature
has traditionally focused on inequality, but modern theories of social justice have shown
that Inequality of Opportunity (IO) is a better concept to deal with the issues of justice and
efficiency. Following this strand, the main goal of the paper is to study IO and its channels of
transmission in Spain using a wide range of circumstances that, to the best of our knowledge,
has never been explored in the IO literature.

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