Course 2018-2019 a.y.


Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English
Go to class group/s: 31
CLEAM (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01) - CLEF (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01) - CLEACC (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01) - BESS-CLES (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01) - WBB (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01) - BIEF (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01) - BIEM (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01) - BIG (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01) - BEMACS (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (I sem.)

Class-group lessons delivered  on campus


Attendance of introductory courses of microeconomics, mathematics, and statistics is strongly suggested.

Mission & Content Summary


The course addresses the main approaches to the measurement of inequality and poverty, their main trends at the global level, and their fundamental determinants. For each topic we discuss the relevant theoretical framework, the main measurement issues, and the available empirical evidence. This course is particularly targeted to economics students who plan to enroll in a Master or Ph.D. program, but students from all degrees and backgrounds are very welcome to attend.


  • Trends in Inequality and Poverty:
    • Inequality, the financial crisis, and the great recession.
    • Global trends in inequality and poverty.
  • Measurement Tools:
    • Measurement: the need for criteria.
    • The transfer principle and other criteria for evaluating inequality measures.
    • Income distribution functions: Pareto, Normal and Log-normal.
  • Inequality:
    • Partial ordering methods: stochastic dominance and the Lorenz Curve.
    • Complete ordering methods: the Gini index.
    • Measuring inequality using STATA.
    • The top 1%: capital in the XXI century.
    • The remaining 99%: skills, education, job polarization, robots and the rise of earnings inequality.
    • Migration and Inequality.
    • Intergenerational inequality: where is the Land of Opportunity?
    • Measurement of intergenerational income elasticity, rank-rank regressions.
    • The Great Gatsby curve.
    • The generation gap.
    • Optimal taxation.
  • Poverty:
    • Measurement: poverty measures.
    • The earned income tax credit and food stamps.
    • Foreign aid and randomized controlled trials.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Estimate several measures of Economic Inequality and Poverty.
  • Select the most appropriate measure of Inequality/Poverty according to the research question, the context or the type of data.
  • Identify advantages and disadvantages of each measure of Inequality/Poverty.
  • Distinguish between different types and definitions of Economic Inequality.
  • Describe trends and the main determinants of Economic Inequality.
  • Summarize the available empirical evidence on Inequality and Poverty.


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Discuss the extent and dynamics of Economic Inequality and Poverty based on normative theory and empirical evidence.
  • Compute and Compare different measures of Inequality/Poverty.
  • Use and Interpret income distribution functions.
  • Read, Analyze and Discuss academic research papers and empirical evidence on Inequality and Poverty.

Teaching methods

  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Exercises (exercises, database, software etc.)
  • Group assignments
  • Interactive class activities (role playing, business game, simulation, online forum, instant polls)


  • We use databases and the software STATA to better understand the theoretical measures of Inequality and Poverty, to calculate measures of Inequality and Poverty in class and to plot graphs.
  • Students can (but it is not compulsory) choose to prepare an in-class group presentation of a given research paper.
  • Students' presentation sessions in interactive environment with peers.

Assessment methods

  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  x x
  • Group assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  x x


Two options available for the assessment, based on student’s preference:

  1. Written exam (two partial exams or one general exam) worth 100% of final score.
  2. Written exam worth 70% of final score (two partial exams worth 35% each or one general exam worth 70%) plus an in-class group presentation of a given research paper worth 30% of final score.

Teaching materials


  • There is no textbook for this class. All methodological issues are covered in detail in the classnotes  P. PINOTTI, Tools for the Analysis of Income Inequality and Poverty. These classnotes are uploaded on Bboard.
  • The course is also based on academic research papers that are uploaded on Bboard.
  • The slides used for lectures are uploaded on Bboard and are compulsory study material for the course.
Last change 02/06/2018 22:34