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2018/2019  KAN-CPOLV4001U  Inequality: Concepts and Measurement

English Title
Inequality: Concepts and Measurement

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Quarter
Start time of the course First Quarter
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 100
Study board
Study Board for BSc/MSc i International Business and Politics, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Herdis Steingrimsdottir - Department of Economics (ECON)
  • Jan Michael Bauer - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • Philosophy and ethics
  • Economics
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 21-02-2018

Relevant links

Learning objectives
  • Understand and be able to discuss the concept and different technical definitions of inequality (discussed in the course) from a philosophical and economic perspective
  • Critically assess different inequality measurements and know their limitations.
  • Be able to apply these measurements to a specific problem.
  • Discuss the political and ethical dimensions of inequality.
  • Evaluate policies (discussed in the course) that aim to decrease inequality.
Course prerequisites
Knowledge of basic statistical concepts, e.g., mean, percentile, and standard deviation.
Inequality: Concepts and Measurement:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Assignment type Project
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Autumn
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content and structure

The course has 14 lectures, spread over 7 weeks. The first part of the course focuses on the concept of inequality, and the philosophical background, the second part of the course focuses on the theoretical definitions and measurements of inequality, and the last part of the course discusses the political and ethical dimensions of inequality.


Since the great recession inequality has resurfaced as one of the most important and contested topics of academic and political debate. The publication of Thomas Piketty's (2014) book "Capital in the 21st Century" has further ignited interest in the topic. The aim of this course is to introduce the concept of inequality, i.e., what is inequality and why does it matter? Students will be introduced to the economic theory of inequality and its philosophical background. In the course we cover various definitions of inequality, and discuss in detail different methods of measuring inequality. We will look at inequalities within countries and across countries, and discuss inequality along various dimensions, such as class, race, and gender. Additionally, we will explore the links between inequality and other associated outcomes such as health, poverty, and social mobility. Finally we address the ethical and political aspect of inequality: We will discuss the top 1%, hidden inequalities, and the existence of an optimal level of inequality. The course also covers potential policies to address inequality, including a discussion whether such interventions should actually take place.

Description of the teaching methods
The class activities will involve lectures, discussions, and problem-solving exercises.
Feedback during the teaching period
There will be a feedback activity (e.g., a quiz or a review session) approximately half way through the course. We also aim to give constant feedback to students in the form of Q and A in the classroom. We encourage students to ask questions and participate in class discussion. Furthermore, we encourage students to form study-groups with other students to secure peer feedback on their work. Finally, students can take advantage of office hours, offered by full-time staff members.
Student workload
Lectures 28 hours
Preparation / exam 178 hours
Further Information

The course is part of theInequality Studies minor. It can be taken as a component of the minor or on a free - standing basis.

Expected literature

Journal articles and selected book chapters. A finalized reading list will be published on CBS Learn three weeks before the course starts.  

Last updated on 21-02-2018