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Since 1965, the annual poverty rate in the United States has hovered between 10% and 15%, though far more than 15% of Americans experience poverty at some point in their lives. In this course, we will study public policies that, explicitly or implicitly, have as a goal improving the well-being of the poor in this country. These policies include social insurance programs such as Unemployment Insurance; safety net programs such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid, and housing assistance; education programs such as Head Start and public education; and parts of the tax code including the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. We will explore the design and functioning of these programs, focusing on questions economists typically ask when evaluating public policy such as: What are the goals of the policy and does the policy achieve them? Does the design of the policy lead to unintended effects (either good or bad)? What are the trade-offs inherent in the policy’s design? Could the policy be redesigned to achieve its goals more effectively? Through in-depth study of these programs, students will learn how economists bring theoretical models and empirical evidence to bear on important questions of public policy.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
evaluation will be based on six 5- to 7-page papers and on the quality of the student's oral presentations and commentary on the work of their colleagues
POEC 253 or ECON 255 or STAT 346 or permission of instructor
Economics majors, Political Economy majors
Each student will write five 5- to 7-page papers on which I will provide written feedback regarding grammar, style, and argument. Each student will write five 2- to 3-page critiques of their partners' papers. Midway through the semester, each student will revise one of their first three papers.
JLST Interdepartmental Electives
POEC U.S. Political Economy + Public Policy Course