This is a course dedicated to an in-depth study of poverty and inequality in the United States. It covers the measurement of poverty and inequality, trends over time, the underlying causes and resultant consequences of poverty and inequality. We will then consider how our views of the poor shape public policy. Our examination will include theories of the culture of poverty, social stratification and discrimination, concentrated poverty and the underclass, economic and family structure drivers as well as institutional causes of poverty such as education and incarceration. The class draws together some of the most influential research, as well as more up-to-date articles and data that have influenced the evolution of social policies in the United States. This class is intended to offer students the opportunity to apply economic and empirical skills learned in their previous introductory economics courses. While the course primarily focuses on the economics of poverty and inequality and utilizes a significant amount of statistical and quantitative analysis, we will cover this terrain from many vantage points: historical, political, philosophical, sociological, and anthropological.
Prerequisites: ECON 101