Poverty: Concepts and Challenges


This course aims at providing students with a broad knowledge about poverty. The focus is on the manifold relationships between poverty and the labor and housing markets, family composition and fertility choices, and education. It starts with poverty measurement in the following perspectives: static, dynamic, uni-dimensional, and multi-dimensional, this latter relating to equality of opportunity and civic participation. It provides an understanding of poverty´s main causes, and helps the students into critical thinking about how to fight it. It also covers the basics of low-income support programs. The students are endowed with the tools to critically assess different programs aiming at reducing poverty in developed countries.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Susana Peralta


Weekly - Available soon

Total - Available soon

Teaching language





Poverty and Discrimination, by Kevin Lang (2007)

The Economics of Poverty, by Martin Ravaillon (2016)

Selected research papers and book chapters

Lecture slides, all relevant material and announcements available on Moodle.

Teaching method

There will be two classes of 1 hour and 20 minutes per week. For each topic, a general overview of the literature will be given. Recent literature will be studied in greater detail. Empirical studies will also be presented, in most cases by students.

Evaluation method

Presentation of a research paper (30 % for the grade): to be done in groups of 5‐6 (depending on class size) for the duration of approximately 40 minutes.

During this session students should:
(I) provide motivation to the research question;
(II) introduce the related literature;
(III) present the empirical results;
(IV) provide appropriate responses to questions from the class.

-Final exam (70% of the grade).

Subject matter

  • Week 1
  • Motivation

    Some history: the concept of Poverty, how the idea has evolved through time

    Concepts of Welfare Economics

  • Week 2
  • Using household surveys for welfare measurement

    Alternatives to welfare measurement

    Measuring inequality

    Increasing global and national inequality

  • Week 3
  • Poverty lines

    Measuring povertly

    Uni-dimensional vs multidimensional poverty

    Static vs dynamic poverty

  • Week 4
  • Impact evaluation

    Education policy, non-cognitive skills, early childhood interventions

  • Week 5
  • Neighbourhoods and urban policy

    Health care policies

  • Week 6
  • Price (wage and rents) interventions

    Low income support policies


    Programs where the course is taught: