Inequality & Development

Inequality is an economic, sociological, legal, political, moral, mathematical and statistical fact.

This class will explore the problem of economic inequality: in classical economics, in the theory of economic development, and in practical experience.

The class will devote time to understanding how inequality is measured and what the evidence shows, for countries and regions around the world. We shall also explore the political and moral dimensions, the question of inequalities by race and gender, and the relationship between inequality and instability in economic growth.

The topic is vast and our approach will be eclectic, with many perspectives welcome. There will be some emphasis on the element I have worked on most, which is the measurement of economic inequalities, and the problem of inferring reasonable measures from diverse and uneven data sources.

This is a seminar. Each student will be expected to prepare and to write a research paper and to present their work in class. The paper will be done in two parts. A first part, containing the core argument and a good review of the relevant literature, will be due at the end of Spring Break. I will review and return these efforts, which will then be developed into a full paper by the end of the class. There may also be a quantitative exercise to ensure that the basics of calculating inequality measures, including Gini and Theil statistics, are understood.