Spring 2022

Public Economics: Environment, Health, and Inequality

Listed in: Economics, as ECON-212


Jessica Wolpaw Reyes (Section 01)


Inequality is arguably one of the primary issues of our time. In this course, we will focus on understanding the particular manifestations of inequality in health and individual well-being that derive from inequality in environmental conditions. We will start with the canonical models of public economics, studying the role of government and paying particular attention to how failures of standard assumptions of rationality, perfect information, and perfect competition will lead to inefficiencies and inequities. We will then apply these modes of analysis to the following topic areas: a) poverty, inequality, meritocracy, and systemic racism; b) environmental inequality and environmental justice; c) health inequality and the cross-generational perpetuation of disadvantage. Lastly, we will consider the potential of public policy to improve societal well-being by targeting these inequities.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Reyes.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Modes of learning and assessment include readings, lectures, problem solving, in-class exams, independent research and writing, graphical analysis, group discussion. Students with documented disabilities who will require accommodations in this course should be in consultation with Accessibility Services and reach out to the faculty member as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations can be made in a timely manner.


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022