Working paper 02/057 - Abstract

Do Unprejudiced Societies Need Equal Opportunity Legislation? (PDF, file 226 KB) (PDF, 236kB)

David de Meza

To what extent should banks, insurance companies and employers be allowed to use personal information about the people whom they lend to, insure or employ in setting the terms of the contract? Even when different treatment is motivated by profit not prejudice, banning discrimination (when combined with mandatory protection against failure) may well be the best way of effecting redistribution of income. Unlike income taxation this policy achieves its goals without much adverse effect on incentives. Public provision of low-powered incentive contracts issued on generous terms is also a potent instrument of efficient redistribution. This is true even if the government cannot observe type but the private sector can.