Poverty in the United States: Measurement and Alleviation

Professor: Edwards
Units: 1.0
Policy Analysis Elective Course

This course is an introduction to poverty from the point of view of public policy, which has the twin goals of identifying who is in poverty (measurement) and reducing poverty and its consequences (alleviation). There are two central themes in poverty policy in the 20th and 21st century that we will explore.

  • The so-called “Deserving Poor”: Not all people in poverty are viewed with equal empathy by the general public or policy makers. Much debate around poverty policy is in deciding who to help and how. Much of the implementation and design in poverty policy is a struggle between Type 1 and Type 2 error in correctly identifying the deserving poor. This class will examine the evolution of deservedness in public programs.
  • The Working Poor: The most effective anti-poverty measure in history is wage income, but not everyone who works gets out of poverty. There is much debate in how much the labor market should be regulated with the aim to increase wages and reduce working poverty. This class will examine the evolution of labor regulation and how the discussion around market intervention differs from the discussion of social spending.