Each class in ECON 156 does a short survey to assess their views on the desirable properties of an inequality measure, as discussed in Chapter 5 of EOP. The survey is done before the course reaches the topic of inequality measurement. Doing a survey like this is a good way to understand the principles of inequality measurement and it helps students identify with some of the arguments later in the course, such as on the effects of economic growth on “inequality” (a classic issue in development economics).
The students are asked to say which of two income distributions for three people has more inequality, if either. For example the first question is whether inequality is higher for the distribution (2, 4, 6) than (1, 2, 3). Participation is not compulsory, and answers are kept anonymous.
This file summarizes the survey and results for Fall 2015 (and aggregate results for Spring and Fall 2014): Class survey on measuring inequality. (270 out of 320 students responded.)
In all three semesters:
This is broadly consistent with similar surveys in the literature (as noted in EOP, Chapter 5). The fact that half are relativists and half absolutists comes back often in the course, including in understanding the debates on growth and distribution (EOP Chapter 8); see the “GROWTH AND DISTRIBUTION” page under “EXTRAS” on this site.