Public and Social Policy

Inequality and Poverty

Living standards, social mobility, and the gap between rich and poor within and between countries are topics increasingly at the centre of political discourse and policy agenda around the world.

This specialism endows students with the capacity to monitor and assess social progress. They learn about how to conceptualise living standards, inequality, poverty, and social mobility, and gain mastery of the tools used to analyse data on individual and societal welfare. Students are equipped to critically evaluate real-world empirical evidence about levels and trends in inequality, poverty, and social mobility within and between countries. Students also learn about the approaches to assessing social progress taken by national statistical agencies and key international organizations. Overall, the specialism highlights how assessments of social progress involves normative assumptions and judgements, as well as providing practical knowledge and understanding of real world practices.


To be eligible for the Inequality and Poverty specialism you must pass the following course:

Welfare Analysis and Measurement (PP4X6)

(1.0 units)

The first half of the course focuses on univariate monetary measures of economic wellbeing notably ‘income’, and on the experience of OECD countries (especially the UK, EU, and USA), but the aim is also to place these in the context of developments based on other approaches and in other countries including middle and low – income nations. The second half of the course broadens the perspective to consider a range of non-monetary, multidimensional, and subjective measures of welfare for individuals and societies. 

Potential Careers

Many graduates focusing on inequality and poverty have pursued careers in government administration and governmental agencies including, for example, the Ministerio de Desarollo Social (Chile), National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) (Mexico), the Departamento Nacional de Planeación (Colombia), and Public Health England. Other graduates from this specialism have worked in the development sector, with employers ranging from the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development and the Inter-American Development Bank, to Save the Children. Several graduates have gone on to PhD research.