This Easter, it’s poignant to remember inequality of opportunity begins at birth


lottery of birthEaster Sunday is a good moment to consider matters of birth and renewal. But what of those for whom birth is merely the beginning of a life that will be nasty, brutish and short? It is a platitude that inequality of opportunity begins at birth. In an ideal world, the very basics – decent basic healthcare and education – should not loom large in the birth lottery. Not in the way experienced by that young Haitian man in Port au Prince who is condemned to blindness and Michael, the American, who’s lucky enough not to be quite so badly off, despite an identical affliction.

It is not surprising that Haiti would fail spectacularly on any ‘where-to-be-born’ index, if ever it were featured. Consider The Economist’s eponymous effort from November 2012, for babies destined to make their appearance last year. It links the results of subjective life-satisfaction surveys to objective indicators such as crime, trust in public institutions and the health of family life matter. (Incidentally, it does not rank Haiti.)

Babies were best off, The Economist found, in small economies, mainly the Nordic countries. None of the countries to which I have ties of blood and belonging – India, Britain and the US – did particularly well. The US was in 16th place, Britain at #27 and India at a woeful 66 (out of the 80 countries covered).

Jack Kerouac

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
– Jack Kerouac