Welfare Analysis and Measurement

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Stephen Jenkins OLD2.29 and Dr Berkay Ozcan OLD2.32


This course is compulsory on the MPA in Public and Social Policy. This course is available on the MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Columbia), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Hertie), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and NUS), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Sciences Po), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Tokyo), MPA in European Public and Economic Policy, MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MSc in Inequalities and Social Science, MSc in International Health Policy, MSc in International Health Policy (Health Economics) and MSc in Social Policy (Research). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


The course has no formal pre-requisites. Because much of the empirical evidence referred to in the course is quantitative in nature, a familiarity with basic statistical concepts and basic calculus is useful but not essential. (These topics are reviewed during the pre-sessional course of the MPA programme EC408.)

Course content

This course provides an introduction to the analysis and measurement of the welfare of individuals and societies, examining concepts, measurement and data, as well as providing illustrations. The aims are to provide an understanding of the main tools used to measure and monitor individuals and social welfare, and to develop skills for assessing academic research and official statistics (as produced by national or international agencies) and for undertaking one’s own analysis. 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 topics covered include measurement of inequality, poverty, and mobility; setting poverty thresholds and equivalence scales; data sources and their quality; empirical illustrations considering assessments of trends within countries, cross-national differences, and global poverty and inequality. 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. Examples include occupational and socio-economic status (SES), anthropometric measures, the Human Development Index and related indices of development, and measures of happiness and life satisfaction.


15 hours of lectures and 13 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the MT. 15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT. 1 hour and 30 minutes of lectures and 1 hour and 30 minutes of seminars in the ST.


The course provides a reading week in Week 6 of Michaelmas and Lent Terms.

Indicative reading

Most of the reading for the course is in journal articles. Books providing overviews include Salverda W, Nolan B, Smeeding TM (eds) The Oxford Handbook on Economic Inequality (2009); and Atkinson A and Bourguignon F (eds) Handbook of Income Distribution Volume 2 (2015) and the earlier Volume 1 (2000). A full reading list is distributed at the beginning of the course.


Exam (75%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (25%, 2000 words) in the LT.

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 8.1
Merit 73.7
Pass 18.2
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2015/16: 36

Average class size 2015/16: 13

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Lecture capture used 2015/16: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 97%



Reading list (Q2.1)


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Contact (Q2.7)


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Recommend (Q2.9)