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Measuring Economic Inequality in Today’s World

Learn to analyse data related to economic inequality, and present it in a way that can foster government policy change.

3,056 enrolled on this course

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Measuring Economic Inequality in Today’s World

3,056 enrolled on this course

  • 4 weeks

  • 4 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Intermediate level

Find out more about how to join this course

Measure wealth and income inequality to promote meaningful public policy change

Overall living standards around the world have jumped in the past 250 years, but this has been accompanied by unprecedented economic inequalities in modern society. A few countries have achieved affluence, in many, most people still live in grinding poverty, and the rest fall somewhere in between.

The first step to combating economic and income inequality is collecting, examining, and interpreting data related to these issues. Only then can governments address them with changes to public policy.

This four-week course from University College London (UCL) gives you the foundations you need to begin to engage in tackling these global concerns.

Foster real change with effective data analysis

Successful measurement of inequality depends on careful data analysis using the right metrics. That’s why you’ll learn the specific skills needed to evaluate data related to wealth and income inequality.

Explore specific public policy changes to combat inequality

You’ll also get appropriate background readings explaining what economic inequality looks like in societies today, how it has changed over time, and how governments can address the issue.

With these insights, and your data-handling and statistical skills, you will gain the confidence to participate in debates on inequality and on how policies can change it.

Enjoy the support of CORE and seasoned economics experts

University College London is a proud base for CORE (Curriculum Open-access Resources in Economics), a global community dedicated to developing innovative and accessible learning materials in economics.

The course is based on CORE’s suite of ebooks created by the world’s top researchers and educators. The University’s levels of excellence are consistently maintained, and you’ll benefit from them throughout this course.


  • Week 1

    Income inequality over the past millennium

    • Introduction to the course

      This activity provides details on the course's content, structure, and facilitation. You will also have the chance to introduce yourself to your course-mates.

    • Introduction to income inequality

      Historical data helps us measure inequality across countries and time, and shows that inequality has grown over the past few decades.

    • How do we measure income and living standards?

      GDP per capita is a useful measure of living standards across countries and time, but has its challenges and limitations.

    • Week 1 summary

      The quiz tests your understanding of how income and income inequality are measured.

  • Week 2

    Measuring income inequality

    • Measuring inequality in income and living standards

      You will learn how to use the Gini coefficient and Lorenz curves to measure and visualise income inequality across countries and time.

    • Trends in income and wealth inequality (1700s - 2010)

      Over the past three centuries, income and wealth inequality has followed different patterns for different countries.

    • Week 2 summary

      The quiz checks your understanding of the Gini coefficient, Lorenz curves, and trends in income inequality over the past three centuries.

  • Week 3

    Inequalities in health and education

    • Inequalities in healthcare and life expectancy

      We can use the Gini coefficient to analyse how inequality in life expectancy has changed over the past 150 years.

    • Inequalities in education

      This activity focuses on gender differences in educational attainment.

    • Week 3 summary

      The quiz tests your understanding of how inequalities in health and educational attainment are measured.

  • Week 4

    How government policy can address inequality

    • Redistributive policies

      You will explore why inequality is seen as a problem, and how redistributive policies can reduce income inequality.

    • Addressing inequality: case studies

      This activity covers two case studies of how government policies have reduced economic inequality.

    • Inequality and economic growth

      This activity investigates cross-country differences in inequality and economic performance, and why inequality might be bad for economic growth.

    • Week 4 summary

      This activity contains a quiz to check your understanding of this week's material, and an overall summary of the course.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explain how data can be used to measure inequality and document trends over time
  • Produce appropriate column charts, line charts, and scatterplots to visualise data
  • Calculate and interpret summary measures of a distribution
  • Calculate and interpret common measures of inequality
  • Explain how governments can design policies to address inequality

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in using statistical software for data analysis, especially to help address economic inequality. Undergraduates, postgraduates, and secondary school students (from GCSE level) will all benefit from it.

What software or tools do you need?

For the best experience, we recommend using a laptop or computer to complete this course. Some tasks require the use of software that is not suitable to be completed on a mobile phone. To complete the data exercises, you’ll need access to Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.

Who will you learn with?

Eileen Tipoe is a Senior Lecturer and Education Expert at Queen Mary University of London, and a Staff Economist at CORE Economics Education.

Who developed the course?

UCL (University College London)

UCL was founded in 1826. It was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, and the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it.

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$134/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 17 Aug 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

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  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
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  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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