Course 2016-2017 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)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (I sem.)

Course Objectives

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 will 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.

Course Content Summary

  • Why attending this course?
    • Inequality, the financial crisis, and the great recession.
    • Global trends in inequality and poverty.
    • Measurement: The need for criteria.
  • Introduction to the measurement of inequality and poverty:
    • Income distribution functions: Pareto, Normal and Log-normal.
    • Partial ordering methods: Stochastic dominance and the Lorenz Curve.
    • Complete ordering methods: the Gini index.
    • The transfer principle and other criteria for evaluating inequality measures.
  • Trends in income shares:
    • The top 1%: Capital in the XXI century.
    • The remaining 99%: Skills, education, and the rise of earnings inequality
    • Measurement: the Pareto distribution and the estimation of income shares.
  • Intergenerational inequality:
    • Where is the "Land of Opportunity"? The Great Gatsby curve.
    • The generation gap.
    • Measurement intergenerational income elasticity, rank-rank regressions.
  • The World Income Distribution:
    • The Solow model,growth accounting and the convergence debate.
    • Between-and Within-country inequality.
    • Measurement entropy measures, the inequality possibility frontier and the extration ratio.
  • Policy analysis:
    • Optimal taxation and foreign aid.
    • Randomized controlled trials.
  • Measurement the Atkinson index, poverty measures.

Detailed Description of Assessment Methods

Two options available for the assessment, based on student’s preference:
  • Written exam (two partial exams or one general exam) worth 100% of final score.
  • 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.


A course pack and a aseries of articles will be distribuited in the classroom.
Exam textbooks & Online Articles (check availability at the Library)


No specific prerequisites are required but basic knowledge of microeconomics, macroeconomic and statistics.

Last change 21/03/2016 12:31