Equality of Opportunity and Opportunity Cost

Opportunity — defined as an opening or chance to do something — is fundamental to the functioning of societies and economies. It enables people to fulfill their potential and create wealth, while at the same time providing others with an incentive to work hard, which benefits society as a whole.

Equality of Opportunity
While a number of conceptions of equality of opportunity exist, the most straightforward one focuses on ensuring that formal rules do not discriminate against people in their pursuit of certain goals, such as employment or admission to schools. This vision can be satisfied by policies such as requirements that job advertisements do not specify a person’s racial or religious identity.

A related concept is opportunity cost, which refers to the forgone benefits that a business, investor or individual misses by choosing one option over another. For example, if someone invests $10,000 in bonds and gets an annual return of 2.5%, their portfolio at the end of 50 years will be worth nearly $500,000. But, if they had invested that money in stocks instead and got an average blended return of 5% per year, their portfolio would be worth about $1 million. Opportunity cost is a forward-looking measure and therefore cannot be predicted with total certainty, but it can help guide decision making.

In our survey, first- and second-generation immigrants and workers of color were among the most optimistic respondents about economic opportunity. This was true even though they were more likely than other groups to say that barriers such as the cost of education, difficulty finding stable housing and a lack of transportation hindered their ability to pursue opportunities. Opportunity

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