Race and ethnicity have played a prominent role in American society and continue to do so, as demonstrated by interracial and interethnic gaps in economic and educational achievement, residence, political power, family structure, crime, and health. Using a sociological framework, we will explore the historical significance of race and its development as a social construction, assess the causes and consequences of intergroup inequalities and explore potential solutions. 3 credits. Greif.
230.380 Poverty and Social Welfare Policy
This course examines the causes and consequences of U.S. poverty and explores strategies for addressing it, with some comparisons to other rich nations. We cover the major theoretical explanations scholars have advanced to explain the persistence of poverty and inequality including labor markets, residential segregation, welfare policy, family structure, and the criminal justice system. Within each topic area, students are introduced to contemporary policy approaches aimed at alleviating poverty, and evaluations of these approaches. 3 credits. Edin.
180.252 Economics of Discrimination
This course examines labor market outcomes by race, gender and ethnicity in the United States. What does the empirical evidence show, and how can we explain it? How much of the difference in observed outcomes is driven by differences in productivity characteristics and how much is due to discrimination? How have economists theorized about discrimination and what methodologies can be employed to test those theories? What has been the impact of public policy in this area; how do large corporations and educational institutions respond; and what can we learn from landmark lawsuits? The course will reinforce skills relevant to all fields of applied economics, including critical evaluation of the theoretical and empirical literature, the reasoned application of statistical techniques, and analysis of current policy issues. Prerequisites: 180.102. 3 credits. Morgan.
180.351 Labor Economics
The course discusses various issues in labor markets from the perspective of economic theory. We first study the major forces at work that shape labor market behavior; firms’ labor demand and workers’ labor supply. Then we discuss the equilibrium behavior of employment and wages. Using these tools, we also cover various applied topics in labor economics, such as minimum wage regulations, male-female wage differentials, human capital investment, worker mobility, and unemployment. Prerequisites: 180.301. 3 credits. Takahashi.
180.389 Social Policy and Behavioral Economics
Economists increasingly incorporate insights from psychology into models of rational decision-making. Known as “behavioral economics,” this line of research considers how, for example, emotions, rules-of-thumb, biased beliefs and time inconsistent preferences influence how we make choices. Behavioral economics increasingly pervades policy discussions on topics as diverse as: obesity, media coverage, subprime mortgages and voting patterns. Behavioral models are certainly novel, but do they help us to design superior social policies? With the goal of preparing students to address this question, this course (1) provides a thorough overview of the main contributions of behavioral economics, highlighting departures from more traditional economic models and (2) emphasizes how behavioral economic models might (or might not) improve how we think about social policy. Prerequisites: 180.301 and 180.344 or permission of the instructor. 3 credits. Papageorge.
190.334 Constitutional Law
Topics include executive and emergency power, racial and gender equality, and selected free speech and religious freedom issues. In addition, this course examines the creation and constitutionality of American social policy. 3 credits. Zackin.
190.385 Urban Politics & Policy
An analysis of public policy and policy-making for American Cities. Special attention will be given to the subject of urban crime and law enforcement, poverty and welfare, and intergovernmental relations. 3 credits. Spence.
190.417 American Welfare State
This seminar analyzes the distinctive US welfare state in historical and comparative perspective. Special attention to policy development over time in health care; pensions; taxes; and work and poverty. 3 credits. Schlozman.
190.424 Policy Disasters
Limited to Seniors or with permission of instructor. Investigates the causes of large-scale policy disasters, examining the role of ideology, psychology, organization design and political incentives. Examples may be drawn from the Iraq War, Bay of Pigs, Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Financial crisis, Shuttle Challenger disaster, economic development policy, privatization, and the Great Society. 3 credits. Teles.
190.475 Courts, Politics, and Public Policy
Examines the causes of American legal change, with particular focus on the role of social movements, and whether and how legal change produces social change. Among the particular cases examined will be civil, prisoners’ and women’s rights. 3 credits. Teles.