Fall 2007

Poverty and Inequality

Listed in: Black Studies, as BLST-16  |  Economics, as ECON-23


Steven G. Rivkin (Section 01)


(Also Black Studies 16.) Highly politicized debate over the determinants of poverty and inequality and the desirability of particular government responses often obscures actual changes over time in social and economic conditions. Information on the true impact of specific government policies and the likely effects of particular reforms becomes lost amid the political rhetoric. In this course we shall first discuss the concepts of poverty, inequality, and discrimination. Next we shall examine trends over time in the poverty rate, inequality of the earnings distribution, family living arrangements, education, crime, welfare recipiency, and health. We shall focus on the U.S., but also study a small number of less developed countries. In the final section of the course, basic economic principles and the evidence from experience with existing government programs will be used to analyze the likely impacts of several policy reform proposals. Requisite: Economics 11. Limited to 50 students. First semester. Professor Rivkin.