This course examines the nature, extent and causes of poverty and inequality in the US relying on a multidisciplinary literature from sociology, political science, economics, and psychology. The large number of anti-poverty programs that have been tried in the last 30 years underscores the extent of disagreement about the causes of poverty, the situation of the poor, and the role of the government in encouraging income redistribution and social change. This course will explore the problem of poverty, theories of poverty and the implications that these theories have for public policies targeting poverty. We will study issues related to topics such as housing and neighborhoods, structural economic changes like wages and inequality, families and social norms, and mass incarceration to consider how these issues generate and reproduce poverty, lack of opportunity, and inequality.
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