English   Danish

2019/2020  BA-BPOLV1092U  Inequality in Europe – a labour market and welfare state perspective

English Title
Inequality in Europe – a labour market and welfare state perspective

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Bachelor
Duration One Quarter
Start time of the course Second Quarter
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 50
Study board
Study Board for BSc/MSc i International Business and Politics, BSc
Course coordinator
  • Caroline de la Porte - Department of International Economics, Governance and Business (EGB)
  • Janine Leschke - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • International political economy
  • Political Science
  • Sociology
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 25-01-2019

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the labour market and welfare state concepts, theories and methods used to study inequality
  • Explain contemporary labour market and welfare state theories.
  • Operationalise key labour market and welfare state concepts with relevant indicators
  • Apply and interpret indicators of labour market and welfare state inequality using relevant data sources.
  • Analyse how institutions shape labour market outcomes across European countries.
  • Develop a relevant research question drawing upon the topics covered in the course.
  • Show analytical proficiency in handling research questions and in supporting theory-driven arguments with relevant empirical evidence.
Inequality in Europe - a labour market and welfare state perspective:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 10 pages
academic paper, max. 10 pages excluding references, figures and tables,
Assignment type Essay
Duration 2 weeks to prepare
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Description of the exam procedure


Students will develop their own research question drawing on the lectures and class discussions, assigned readings and data exercises. Students will present their tentative research question in the last session. This short presentation (approximately 5 minutes) should include a justification of the choice of countries, relevant definitions, concepts and data (variables, indicators and institutions). Prior to the exam students will receive feedback on their research question and approach from the course coordinators and peers.   

Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Course content

Inequality is a central issue in contemporary debates in political economy, sociology and economics. This is exemplified by Piketty’s agenda-setting volume – “ Capital in the Twenty-First Century” – which underscores why, how and with what consequences inequality has been changing over the last century. International organisations, such as the OECD, are increasingly concerned with rising inequality across and within countries.


This course focuses on disentangling inequality from a labour market and welfare state perspective. The approach is comparative, based mainly on European countries. We will present and discuss different theoretical approaches – welfare regime theory, dualization and segmentation – rooted in political science and sociology, to study how market forces, institutions and policies interact to produce and to counter inequalities. As a student, you will not only be introduced to relevant theories and concepts, but you will also learn to work with original aggregate data and indicators, which can among others be useful for your bachelor thesis. A number of sessions will have integrated exercises where you will prepare your own analysis of a dimension of inequality in a comparative perspective.


But why are some countries consistently successful at countering inequality and others are less so? By disentangling the notion of inequality, and using relevant welfare state and labour market theories and concepts to assess the various dimensions of inequality, we will together reach an understanding of why some countries do better than others. A comparative country perspective on the role of labour market and welfare state institutions is crucial to map, understand and analyze the causes of inequality. We focus in particular on the role of governments, employers and trade unions in mitigating inequalities. In addition, we pay special attention to some groups that are more vulnerable to inequality, including women, youth and labour migrants.


The 4th Industrial Revolution is currently high on the agenda of politicians and labour market scholars. This term refers to the changing nature of work which goes hand in hand with more widespread insecurity and precarity for some groups of workers. Thus, while employment rates have been growing, not least due to increasing shares of women in the labour market, employment contracts have become more volatile and phenomena such as fixed-term work, solo self-employment and, more generally, low wage work are on the rise. Specific groups are particularly prone to non-standard and precarious employment, among them are women, youth, low educated workers and migrants. On the basis of selected academic articles, book chapters and policy papers as well as structured input lectures, we will jointly analyze and discuss in class how in the context of changing labour markets, fair and inclusive working conditions can be sustained.


The overall aim of the course is to provide the students with a rich understanding of the current theoretical debates and empirical research in labour markets, drawing in particular on social policy and industrial relations perspectives. The course will enable the students to conduct independent research on labour market and welfare state topics, with a specific focus on inequalities. Students will be able to understand and contribute to the political and sociological debates in the field and will get hands-on experience of the relevant data and indicators necessary to capture labour market and welfare state inequalities available at relevant institutions such as the OECD, the European Commission and Eurofound. The skills acquired in this course are transferable to other settings, including work in governmental and international organizations.


Description of the teaching methods
The course uses blended learning and will among others contain lectures, class discussions based on the assigned readings and the discussion of a specific case using case-based teaching methods. Additionally, selected sessions make use of group presentations of exercises using comparative aggregate data and indicators along different dimensions of labour market and welfare state inequality. Finally, each student will individually present their own tentative research question, theory and data, in a final seminar, in preparation for the take-home exam.
Feedback during the teaching period
• Oral feedback on the case discussion in session 2.
• Oral feedback on the group data exercises in selected classes.
• Oral feedback as part of class discussions on assigned readings in all classes.
• Oral feedback on presentation of research question and approach in the final session.
Student workload
class teaching 36 hours
preparation for class and preparation for exam 170 hours
Last updated on 25-01-2019