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Institutions and Inequality


Course description:

This course will introduce students to the topics of economic and political inequality, and the relation between inequality and politics. We will consider the different measures of income inequality and the distribution of income within countries over time. Next, we will draw comparisons between countries. What are the predictions of increased economic inequality for prospects of democratisation? Do democracies redistribute more? Why do elites extent the right to vote? Does economic growth generate income inequality? Do political institutions underlie persistent differences in economic inequality? Or do differences in economic opportunities shape the types of institutions chosen?

Methods of instruction

The course will consist of a combination of lectures and class discussions. A different topic will be considered each week, and the discussion will center on one or two main academic articles.


A detailed syllabus will be provided in the first lecture. We will read articles and book chapters, there is no handbook for this course.




This course will be assessed by a combination of essays, student presentation(s), and in-class active and informed participation.


This course has no formal entry requirements, but succesful completion of “Statistiek” (or an equivalent course on Empirical Methods for Political Scientists) and “Economie voor Politicologen” (or an equivalent Introduction to Economics for Political Scientists course) will be helpful.