PP5236 Poverty, Inequality, and Public Policy January – May 2019
Thursday, 9AM-12PM, SR 2-1
Assistant Professor Namrata Chindarkar Email: email@example.com Office hours: By appointment
With the introduction of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), reducing poverty (Goal 1) has once again taken policy centre stage and reducing inequality (Goal 10) has been explicitly added as a new target. With this significant shift in the development discourse, there is a need to understand what is meant by poverty and inequality not only conceptually, but also to understand how the two issues are inter-linked, how they are measured, what causes them, and what should the policy responses be.
The module draws upon multiple disciplines but with an emphasis on economic theoretical and empirical literature. It combines theory, measurement, and policy with an emphasis on policy examples from Asia.
In addition to introducing students to mainstream conceptualizations of poverty and inequality such as pre-determined poverty lines and Gini index, this module brings in contemporary and alternative paradigms such as multi-dimensional poverty, capability deprivation, and inequality of opportunity. It also covers new theoretical perspectives on poverty from behavioral economics.
At the end of the module:
- Students will gain a foundational understanding of the definitions and measures of poverty and inequality
- Students will be able to compare and contrast different theoretical explanations on the causes and consequences of poverty and inequality
- Students will be able to critically examine key policy responses in light of the concepts, measures, and theories, and propose recommendations
Each 3-hour class will comprise of three sessions. The first 30-minute session will be student-led presentations. Groups of 2-3 students will choose a topic from a list provided by the instructor. The second session will be lecture-based. And the third session will include a case discussion and/or in-class exercise. Each week’s readings will be accompanied with a set of questions that
the students must think through when doing the readings. The classes will be conducted with the expectation that students have done – and reflected on – the readings. Students are highly encouraged to supplement the class readings with their own to further enrich the discussions.
Expectations from students:
Students MUST complete the assigned readings and case studies PRIOR to coming to class. These will be provided in soft copy that will be downloadable from the IVLE. Supplementary readings are not mandatory though encouraged. Class participation is defined for this course as attending the class and engaging in the discussions such that it adds to the student’s and their classmates’ learning. Therefore, quality of contribution will receive higher grades.
Leave of absence for medical or emergency reasons must be approved by Academic Affairs.
Knowledge of introductory economics (equivalent to PP5403) and quantitative methods (equivalent to PP5406 and high-school arithmetic) is desirable to grasp measurement issues and theoretical and quantitative readings.
Due dates for the assignments are not negotiable. Late submissions will receive a deduction of 5% for each additional day after the deadline.
Policy blog 1 due date: Sunday, February 17, 11:59pm Policy blog 2 due date: Sunday, March 10, 11:59pm Policy presentation: Thursday, April 18, 9am-12pm (in class) Policy memo due date: Sunday, May 5, 11:59pm
Class participation: Continuous assessment
|2 Policy Blogs
||Students will write a 1000-word policy blog based on a set of assigned readings.
||Students will present a “Poverty Reduction Strategy 2030” of a chosen country.
||Students will choose their own case and write a 2500-word memo advising the policymakers.
|Students are expected to actively engage in presentations and class discussions. Quality of contributions holds greater
Note on student presentations:
Groups of 2-3 students will sign-up to make a brief presentation on a chosen topic and each member will be required to present. A slot will be set aside by the instructor to meet with the group members in the previous week to discuss the presentation material.
Note on class participation grade:
Class participation will be based on attendance and regular and constructive participation in class discussions. The instructor and facilitator will assess the contribution of individual students based on the quality of presentation and comments during class discussions.
The class participation grade will be an aggregate grade based on an average of all the classes in the module, with the two lowest scores being dropped before this is calculated. Medical leave with a valid medical certificate or absence with valid reason will not count in the scoring. Absence from class without good reason will be counted as zero participation.
The following readings are highly relevant to the course and frequent references will be made to them. Students are not expected to purchase these books. However, they would benefit from referring to copies available in the library.
Banerjee, Abhijit and Duflo, Esther. 2011. Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty. New York: PublicAffairs.
Green, Duncan. 2016. How Change Happens. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Open access] Krishna, Anirudh. 2011. One Illness Away: Why People Become Poor and How They Escape Poverty. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Milanovic, Branko. 2011. The Haves and the Have-Nots. New York: Basic Books.
Mullainathan, Sendhil and Shafir, Eldar. 2013. Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much. New York: Henry Holt & Company.
Sen, Amartya. 1999. Development as Freedom. New York: Random House, Inc. You Yenn, Teo. 2018. This is What Inequality Looks Like. Singapore: Ethos Books.