01:220:120 and 01:790:120 (4 credits) Core: CC, SCL
Professor Douglas H. Blair, Economics and Political Science
What accounts for the striking increase of economic inequality over the past four decades in the United States? Does it have parallels in earlier time or in other advanced countries? Has political equality increased too? Do Americans care about growing inequality? Should they? What might we do to reduce inequality?
After an initial look at how we measure economic inequality, we will examine the evidence of its increase and set it in international context.
We will then embark on a tour of some leading economic hypotheses for the rise in inequality, ranging from immigration and globalization to superstars and winner-take-all markets. We will also explore differences between rich and poor in voting power and political voice and participation–and whether these differences matter in the extent to which average citizens or elites get their way in the making of public policy.
This course is particularly recommended for students pursuing majors or minors in Africana studies, anthropology, business, communications, criminal justice, economics, geography, Latino and Caribbean studies, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, and women's and gender studies. It is also appropriate for humanities, life sciences, and physical sciences majors seeking Core or elective credit. This course carries credit toward the major or minor in either economics or political science. Inequality can be used to fulfill the Core Curriculum goals in Contemporary Challenges [CC] and Social Analysis [SCL].