Skip directly to content

Sara Tonini - Research Summary

University of Cape Town

On fairness: Evidence from Post-Communist countries

Joint with Michelle Brock and Vito Peragine

Inequality of opportunity is important not just because it unfairly limits some people’s chance of success, but also as it influences people’s perceptions of how well off they are and their ability to succeed. If you have pessimistic views about your own wellbeing or chance for success, this will influence your choices related to human capital accumulation, savings, innovation and labour market participation. Using the EBRD Life in Transition Survey, we explore whether inequality of opportunity is correlated with respondents’ perception of their own relative income and determinants of success and failure in their country. We find that while inequality of opportunity does not appear to influence households’ perception of their relative income or beliefs about the determinants of individual success, it does influence beliefs about what determines individuals to fail, economically. We also find that income inequality is positively correlated with beliefs that fair processes are behind success and failure, while unemployment is negatively correlated. This suggests that households attribute their relative income level to their own achievements but acknowledge when economic failure may be due to unfair processes.