Inequality of opportunity in health and cognitive abilities: the case of Chile
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This paper studies inequality of opportunity in health in Chile. Following Roemer's ap- proach to equality of opportunity, we separate the e ect of circumstances and e orts -healthy behaviors- on self-assessed health. In addition to parental and family background, our set of circumstances includes a proxy of numeracy skills. We nd that circumstances explain nearly 40 percent of the variance of health outcomes, four times the contribution of e orts. More than one third of the contribution of circumstances is due to numeracy skills, similar to the contribution of parental education. Parents' longevity is also important but its contribution is smaller. The overall in uence of circumstances on inequality is substantial, ranging from 62 to more than 90 percent depending on the inequality index used. Overall, we nd that health inequality is higher in Chile than in European countries and the contribution of unequal opportunities to inequality is at least as large. Our results also highlight the importance of cognitive ability on health inequality.
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