COOL CLASSES: “Inequality and Public Policy”

This economics course, cross-listed in political science, explores the relationship between policy and economic outcomes in the United States, including the causes of rising inequality and its effects on American democracy.

Course Title: “Inequality and Public Policy”

Taught By: Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics Michael Levere

Says Levere:

The course explores the relationship between public policy and economic outcomes in the United States. We examine causes of rising inequality over the last few decades and its effects on American democracy, applying our discussion to important policy topics. We first focus on the causes and consequences of inequality, including the role of race, gender, and discrimination. We discuss the role that inequality plays in voting and elections and the extent to which government represents the interests of Americans across the income distribution. We then take a deeper dive examining eight applied policy topics: taxes, transfer programs, employment, education, health, housing, environment, and criminal justice. In each, we assess levels of inequality, including the role of race and gender, as well as analyze policies that serve to ameliorate or exacerbate inequality. We conclude with a comprehensive assessment of ways the political and economic policy landscape can evolve over the coming decades to ensure equality of opportunity.

I hope that students come away from the course with the ability to think critically about the biggest challenges facing our society today. Inequality is pervasive across multiple facets of the economy, and crafting policy solutions to address it is both essential and exceptionally challenging at the same time. There are no easy answers, but through careful evaluation, I hope that students will be well prepared to advocate for policy reforms that are based on a strong evidence base from an economics and political science perspective.

This is my first year at Haverford after working at Mathematica doing economic policy research for the past five years after completing graduate school. I enjoyed my work at Mathematica because it offered me an opportunity to do research on topics that directly informed policy, making me feel my work has a real impact. I was therefore excited about synthesizing lots of research and key ideas related to what I think are the most important policy topics facing our society today. … These are all ideas I think about constantly and talk about with family and friends, and I was excited to engage with Haverford and Bryn Mawr students in similar conversations.

The course is a new experience for me in that it is my first time teaching a course that covers both economics and political science. As an economist, it has been interesting to bring in many ideas from political science that I have read about on my own time and been interested in on a personal level but never explored in such a rigorous and systematic fashion. 

Learn more about other courses offered by the Department of Economics.