The equality effort = success is not, in fact, corroborated by any empirical evidence. The simple fact that, for instance, intelligence exhibits a Gaussian distribution among the population while the wealth, a (somewhat incomplete) proxy for success, usually follows a Pareto law with a large majority of poor people and a tiny minority of the extra rich, already explains that at least two variables are missing in the equation (Pluchino et al., 2018). These variables are, indeed, luck and the past. The academic literature now includes examples pointing to this direction. Indeed the literature shows that, for instance, those holding earlier surname initials are significantly more likely to receive tenure at top departments (Einav & Yariv, 2006) or access to oversubscribed public services (Jurajda & Münich, 2010). Moreover, it shows that many countries of the world show a striking empirical correlation, usually known as the Great Gatsby Curve, between the concentration of wealth in one generation and the ability of those in the next generation to move up the economic ladder compared to their parents (i.e., intergenerational elasticity).
Our EOF journey in search of a new economic paradigm also passes through here. We cannot accept that inequalities are justified based on the merit principle alone. We have to work, roll up our sleeves, to understand the root causes of inequalities. Perhaps we should also have much more courage and recognize, as Oxfam did, that, for example, to reduce one of the most striking inequalities of our times (that of access to vaccination), we should start from two great classics of economic theory: property rights and the distribution of wealth. However, we should also find our way and don’t simply ask for more taxation. We need curiosity, hope, and even a bit of healthy inventiveness to imagine a different world (and economy thereof) in which economic inequalities are no longer justified or justifiable and access to necessary goods, such as the vaccine, is granted to everyone.
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