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The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Department of Economics, ECON 85600

Income inequality has risen to the top of the public policy agenda in the United States and many other countries, and this course intends to help students critically understand the public policy implications from a perspective grounded in economic theory and careful empirical analysis.

The course will help students to more deeply understand the facts and empirical studies of causal relationships between inequality and opportunity in a way that will allow a critical understanding of public policy responses. Facts, drivers, and policies motivate the study of three types of inequalities and their implications for intergenerational economic mobility: top-end inequality, middle inequalities, and low income and poverty.

Learning goals:

To develop a knowledge of microeconomic theory used in modeling the development of human capital, socio-economic differences in economic opportunity, and labor market outcomes

To use theory to construct empirical models of inequality and intergenerational dynamics, and to understand the most common econometric approaches in the study of socio-economic inequalities

To review and assess the public policy response to socio-economic inequalities and intergenerational mobility in different countries


Be present at each class, but also in a way that demonstrates your sincerity and engagement in a way congruent with your personality and learning style

Be prepared for each class by having done the readings beforehand

Be constructive and contribute to the development of a positive learning environment for all members of the course, both inside and outside of the classroom


Download the full course outline.

Readings and lectures:

Consult the course outline, but also return to the “teaching” tab nested in the “Equality of Opportunity” tab for more information about each lecture as it becomes available.