Plenary session
Inequality of opportunity and mobility in Latin America

Keynote 1 | Auditorium: Wednesday, 5 October 2022, 09:15-10:30 (UTC-5)

How persistent across generations are the high levels of inequality observed in Latin America? To answer this question, we review the empirical literature on intergenerational mobility and inequality of opportunity for the region, summarizing results for both income and educational outcomes. Whereas the income mobility literature is hampered by a paucity of representative datasets containing linked information on parents and children, the inequality of opportunity approach – which relies on other inherited and pre-determined circumstance variables – has suffered from arbitrariness in the choice of population partitions. Two new data-driven approaches – one aligned with the ex-ante and the other with the ex-post conception of inequality of opportunity – are introduced to address this shortcoming. They yield a set of new inequality of opportunity estimates for twenty-seven surveys covering nine Latin American countries over various years between 1994 and 2017. In most cases, more than half of the current generation’s inequality is inherited from the past – with a range between 40% and 63%. The conditional inference and transformation trees used to produce those estimates shed light on the different structures of unequal opportunity across countries, and are of intrinsic interest themselves.


09:15-10:30 (UTC-5)

Francisco H.G. Ferreira | Keynote

Francisco H. G. Ferreira is the Amartya Sen Professor of Inequality Studies at the London School of Economics, where he is also Director of the International Inequalities Institute. Francisco has published widely on the measurement, causes and consequences of inequality and poverty in developing countries. He is an IZA Research Fellow and currently serves as President of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association.

Rachel Gisselquist | Chair

Rachel M. Gisselquist, a political scientist, is a Senior Research Fellow with the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) and a member of the institute’s senior management team. She works on the politics of developing countries, with particular attention to inequality, ethnic politics, statebuilding and governance and the role of aid therein, democracy and democratization, and sub-Saharan African politics.

Forhad Shilpi | Discussant

Forhad Shilpi is a Senior Economist in the Sustainability and Infrastructure Team of the Development Research Group. Her current research focuses on the impacts of infrastructure and communication on rural-urban transformation, the role of domestic market institutions in the transmission of international price signals, and intergenerational mobility in developing countries. Her research has been published in leading development and economics journals such as Economic Journal, Journal of Development Economics, Journal of Human Resources, Canadian Journal of Economics, Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics and Economic Development and Cultural Change. She holds a Ph.D. degree in economics from Johns Hopkins University, where she taught several economics courses. Prior to joining the World Bank, she worked as a research associate at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies.