Not available in 2024/25
Welfare Analysis and Measurement

This information is for the 2024/25 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Berkay Ozcan (OLD.2.32) and Prof Stephen Jenkins (OLD.2.29)


This course is available on the Double Master of Public Administration (LSE-Columbia), Double Master of Public Administration (LSE-Sciences Po), Double Master of Public Administration (LSE-University of Toronto), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Hertie), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and NUS), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Tokyo), MPA in Data Science for Public Policy, MSc in International Social and Public Policy, MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Development), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Education), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (LSE and Fudan), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Migration), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Non-Governmental Organisations), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Research), Master of Public Administration and Master of Public Policy. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course has no formal pre-requisites. The course focuses on quantitative approaches to assessment of social progress. A strong background in maths and stats is not required but you need to be willing to engage with tables and graphs and basic formulae. The course is challenging but not intrinsically difficult; most important is a willingness to engage with the issues in depth.  

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. The second half of the course draws on the measurement approaches and data issues covered in the first half of the course, developing them as appropriate to the new settings.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum of 60 hours across Autumn Term and Winter Term. 

Indicative reading

Most of the course reading is in journal articles. Books providing overviews include:


• Foster, J, Seth, S, Lokshin M and Saiara, Z, A Unified Approach to Measuring Poverty and Inequality (2013; free e-book available); and

• Atkinson A and Bourguignon F (eds) Handbook of Income Distribution Volume 2 (2015) and their earlier Volume 1 (2000) (available online via LSE Library).


A full reading list is distributed at the beginning of the course.


Coursework (25%, 2000 words) in the WT.
Take-home assessment (75%) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2020/21 - 2022/23 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 14.1
Merit 81.5
Pass 4.4
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: School of Public Policy

Total students 2023/24: 47

Average class size 2023/24: 16

Controlled access 2023/24: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

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