Fair unemployment compensation and the target for egalitarian concerns


  • Cornelius Cappelen University of Bergen




unemployment insurance, equality, responsibility, redistribution, fairness, interpersonal comparison


If we want to make people more equal, what should we make them more equal in? For example, should it be resources, such as income, or should it be subjective well-being, such as preference satisfaction? The aim of this article is to critically examine the two main answers to this question within a luck egalitarian moral framework, which is a framework that aims to eliminate inequalities caused by non-responsibility factors, while preserving inequalities due to responsibility factors. I argue that the arguments typically presented in favor of equalizing incomes rather than subjective well-being are weak and that within a luck egalitarian moral framework the claim that resources and not welfare should be considered the appropriate basis for interpersonal comparisons is in need of justification.

The question of what society should equalize is applied to the issue of what should be the fair level of unemployment insurance compensation: Should we only compensate the involuntary unemployed for the income loss associated with unemployment, or also for the non-pecuniary costs associated with unemployment? The answer to this question, I argue, depends on where the cut between responsibility factors and non-responsibility factors is drawn.


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How to Cite

Cappelen, C. (2010). Fair unemployment compensation and the target for egalitarian concerns. Etikk I Praksis - Nordic Journal of Applied Ethics, 4(2), 93-111. https://doi.org/10.5324/eip.v4i2.1765



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