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Leveling Opportunities, Key to Latin American and the Caribbean
October 2nd, 2008 - Between one fourth and one half of income inequality observed among Latin America and the Caribbean adults is due to personal circumstances endured during childhood that fell outside of their control or responsibility, such as race, gender, birthplace, parent’s educational level and their father’s occupation. These circumstances reveal the level of inequality of opportunity in the region
The new Human Opportunity Index, developed by a Group of economists from the World Bank, Argentina and Brazil, shows how personal circumstances play in gaining or preventing access to those services needed for a productive life, such as running water, sanitation, electricity or basic education among children in the region. This opens up a whole new field of study dedicated to designing public policy focused on equity.


   The Human Opportunity Index is a synthetic measure of inequality of opportunity in basic services for children. The index is inspired by the social welfare function proposed by Sen (1976), and holds that a development process in which society attempts to equitably supply basic opportunities requires ensuring that as many children as possible have access to those basic opportunities, with a target of universalism; it requires distributing available basic opportunities increasingly toward the more disadvantaged groups. The Human Opportunity Index summarizes in a composite indicator both elements: (i) how many opportunities are available, that is, the coverage rate of a basic service; and (ii) how equitably those opportunities are distributed, that is, whether the distribution of that coverage is related to exogenous circumstances. Hence, an increase in coverage of a basic service at the national level will always improve the index. However, if that increase in coverage is biased toward a disadvantaged group (for example, a poor region), it will further reduce inequality of opportunity, increasing the index more than proportionally.
  This study defines basic opportunities as a subset of goods and services for children, such as access to education, to safe water, or to vaccinations, that are critical in determining opportunity for economic advancement in life. These are either affordable by society at large already, or could be in the near future, given the available technology. Universal provision of basic opportunities is a valid and realistic social goal. In the case of children, most societies agree on the importance of a set of basic opportunities, at least at the level of intentions; even if different societies might have different standards about the right set of basic opportunities, there is some global consensus on a few of them, just as there is consensus regarding the Millennium Development Goals. Here we include as basic opportunities variables related to education (completion of sixth grade on time, and school attendance at ages 10–14) and housing conditions (access to clean water, sanitation, and electricity). Other basic opportunities can be added, but these were available from reasonably comparable available household surveys.

 なるほど。実際には、社会学で使われているというD-Index (Dissimilarity Index)を作って、それを1から引いた数に平均をかけて指数を計算するという。すると、平均が上がっても、ばらつきが小さくなっても指数は上がっていくわけ。そこで、子供の人間的な暮らしを数字で測るという。

To construct a single summary indicator that can facilitate the measurement of opportunity in each country, all five different indicators of children’s opportunities—completing sixth grade on time, school enrollment at ages 10–14, and access to water, sanitation, and electricity—were incorporated into an overall Human Opportunity Index (table 1). We first average the indexes for water, sanitation, and electricity into a single index of housing conditions. This is then averaged with the education index, encompassing completion of sixth grade on time and school enrollment for children ages 10–14. The results show that across the different opportunities considered, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Uruguay, and República Bolivariana de Venezuela are closest to universality. Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua are farther from that target, both because of low coverage and because the existing coverage is not equitably distributed.


 子供についてBasic Human Needsを不平等を考慮しながら、その普及度を「機会」として示すというアイデアでしょうか。たしかに世の中のMDGとも呼応しているし、Heckmanの米国の子供の研究なんかがこういう研究の屋台骨になるんでしょうか。FT reports:

World Bank reveals poverty rooted in childhood

By Naomi Mapstone in Lima

Published: October 3 2008 03:00 | Last updated: October 3 2008 03:00

Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela are closer to ensuring their citizens have the chance to break the cycle of poverty than many of their neighbours in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the World Bank's first Human Opportunity Index.

The index, developed by World Bank economists and piloted in Latin America because of its vast gulf between rich and poor, is a new type of measurement that focuses not on income but on the factors children need to ensure they have an equal start in life.

It was "a breakthrough methodology" that would lead to focusing investment where it had the highest impact, said Marcelo Giugale, director of the World Bank's poverty reduction and economic management for the Latin America and Caribbean region.

Of 19 countries studied, using data for the decade up to 2005, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua were struggling the most to give their poorest a way to progress, while Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Panama, Paraguay, Jamaica, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Colombia and Jamaica shared the middle of the table.

"We have found that between a quarter in Colombia and half in Guatemala of the income inequality the bank observed had been caused by the circumstances people faced as children - circumstances beyond their control," he said.

Race and ethnicity were a key common obstacle among the poorest in Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala and Panama.

In Peru, Guatemala and Brazil, every one of those in the most economically disadvantaged groups was a member of an ethnic minority.

Parental education levels were also a deciding factor. In Ecuador and Guatemala, 99 per cent of the poorest people had uneducated mothers, and in Guatemala and Peru 99 per cent and 100 per cent of the poorest respectively had uneducated fathers.

In all of these countries, 88 per cent to 100 per cent of fathers were agricultural workers.

"Birthplace matters in Latin America; it determines a child's access to clean water, sanitation and electricity," the report said.

Mr Giugale said the World Bank hoped to update the index every two years and eventually use the same methodology in other countries, including the US and Europe.


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