ECON 231
The Economics of Inequality Spring 2022
Division II

Class Details

There are many outcomes in the United States that show profound levels of inequality: education, earnings, wealth, housing, environmental health, and life expectancy, just to name a few. This course examines the economic forces that drive and/or explain these inequalities in the U.S. The beginning of the course covers definitions and economic techniques used to measure income and wealth inequality, as well as differences between perceived and actual inequalities. We then move on to the theoretical underpinnings of the rise of domestic economic inequality, as well as models and theories of discrimination. Finally, we will explore how economic inequalities carry over into health, housing, and environmental quality through policies or social mechanisms. We will discuss and investigate the following questions and more: How are skill and education related to income? How do income and health interact, and which causes the other? How is the level of economic inequality in the country perceived? Which historic policies have led to specific inequalities, and was the inequality an intentional or inadvertent outcome? What have other countries done differently, and how does what the U.S. has done compare in terms of disparities? What exactly is discrimination, and what are the cumulative effects of it in the labor market and health outcomes?
The Class: Format: lecture; Lecture and small discussion groups
Limit: 25
Expected: 25
Class#: 3455
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Several short papers (peer- and instructor-reviewed), article review, and final project and presentation
Prerequisites: ECON 110
Enrollment Preferences: Economics majors
Distributions: Division II

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