ECON-621 Economics of Poverty and Inequality
Fall for 2017-2018
Concerns about “poverty” and “inequality” have long been central to economics and policy. The course will begin with a brief historical overview of past thinking in philosophy and economic back to the 17th century. We will then study the concepts found in current literature and policy debates in more formal terms, critically reviewing prevailing measurement theories. Using these concepts, the course will then review the debates, theories and the evidence on the causes of poverty and on the role and effectiveness of specific policy interventions.
The lectures will embrace some key questions about economic development: Why does poverty fall faster in some economies than others? Is a rise in inequality inevitable as poor countries grow? Does poverty necessarily fall with economic growth? How does the initial inequality influence the growth process and subsequent distributional changes? Can poor countries or poor areas within countries get stuck with persistently high poverty despite sound macroeconomic policies? What types of policy interventions can help in effectively fighting poverty?
The lectures will draw on both economic theory and a wide range of evidence, including both econometric studies and lessons from more qualitative work. Emphasis will be given throughout on understanding and evaluating policy interventions from a distributional perspective, ranging from macro policies to micro-sectoral policies. The course will primarily, but not exclusively, focus on developing countries.
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