Econ 187 - The Economics of Poverty, Inequality, and Discrimination

Professor David Bjerk



I have moved up the Lecture on an Overview of Regression Analysis to be covered right after Impact of Poverty Policy.

As stated in class, midterm 1 is Thursday Feb 26. It is a take-home test. I will email you the test at 9:30AM on Thursday, it is due at 8:00PM (email your answers to me, or slip them under my door and email me confirmation). The test covers everying we have discussed in class up through the "Life in High Poverty Neighorhoods" lecture we finished today (Tuesday Feb 24). I think the test should not take any more than 3 hours (in fact, probably well less). While I cannot police this, I do not think it is in your interest to spend more than that amount of time.

Next week we will watch "Hoop Dreams". The lecture on "Teen Motherhood" will follow the next week.


Lang, Kevin. (2007). Poverty and Discrimination. Princeton University Press. Princeton , NJ.

Powerpoint Slides and other readings:

Who is Poor? What is Poverty? Kotlowitz "There Are No Children Here"; Lang - Ch 2)

Theory of Labor Demand and Wages (Borjas - Ch 4: 104-112)

Minimum Wages and Other Labor Market Policy (Elliot "Guinea Pigging"; Lang Ch 5: 115-120; Borjas Ch 4: 136-146)

Job Training (Lang Ch 5: 121-133; Schochet, Burghardt, McConnel "Does Job Corps Work? Impact Findings from the National Job Corps Study")

Welfare, the EITC, and Other Gov't Transfer Programs (Lang, Ch 9; Lang, Ch 3)

Impact of Poverty Policy (Fox et al. "Waging War on Poverty: Historical Trends in Poverty Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure")

Overview of Regression Analysis (Lang Ch 1: 19-28) (Note: this is an ordering change from original Syllabus!)

Life High Poverty Neighborhoods

Screening of "Hoop Dreams"

Teen Motherhood (Lang Ch 6: 161-172)

Intergenerational Issues (Leblanc - Random Family (Chapter 1), Chetty et al. "Where is the Land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States")

Inequality (Borjas Ch 8: 284-302; Saez - "Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States"; Simon "There Are Now Two Americas")

Taxation (Buffet - "Stop Coddling the Super Rich"; Lowenstein - "The Inequality Conundrum"; Kleven - "How Can Scandanavians Tax So Much?"; Optional: Slemrod - Taxing Ourselves Ch 2;

Historical Trends in Racial Inequality (Lang Ch 11: 283-293; *Heckman and Donohue - "Continuous Versus Episodic Change: The Impact of Civil Rights Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks.")

Theories of Discrimination (Lang Ch 10)

Empirically Assessing Discrimination

*Holzer, Raphael, and Stoll."Perceived Criminality, Criminal Background Checks, and Racial Hiring Practices of Employers"; (Optional)

Education (Fryer and Levitt - "The Black-White Test Score Gap through Third Grade"; Lang Ch 6:177 - 190; Belfield et al "The High/Scope Perry Preschool Program"; *Hanushek - "Failure of Input-based Schooling Policies"; )

Screening of "Waiting for Superman" (note: replaced with "The Lottery")

Innovations in Eductaion Policy (Dobbie and Fryer "Are High-Quality Schools Enough to Increase Achievment Among The Poor?"; Lang Ch 8; Russakoff - "Schooled: Cory Booker, Chris Christie, and Mark Zuckerberg had a Plan to Reform Newark's Schools. They Got an Education"; *Angrist, Pathak, and Walters "Explaining Charter School Effectiveness")

Problem Sets:

Problem Set 1 (due Tuesday Feb 10) answers

Problem Set 2 (due Tuesday Feb 24) answers

Problem Set 3 (due Thursday April 2nd) (Note: the Payroll/FICA tax rate is 6.2% of all labor earnings income up to $117,000, with no tax for any furtherlabor income above and beyond $117,000) answers

Problem Set 4 (due Tuesday April 21) Here is data for question 4, tab delimited text file, can be opened directly in Excel or loaded into Stata. In Excel, to run regression, click on "Data" tab, then "Data Analysis" button, then choose "Regression" (given there are only two schools, you can only include dummy variable for one of the schools). If the "Data Analysis" button does not appear under the "Data" tab, you have to add the "Analysis Toolpack". Click on Excel help to find out how (it is easy). answers

Additional Materials:

Cohen, "Aid to the Needy Often Excludes the Poorest in America" NYT