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Wealth and Inequality: Asset Development and Poverty Reduction Policies in the U.S.

Course Description

U.S. wealth inequality has steadily risen since the 1970s, despite efforts to help low-wealth households build assets. This course will examine how public policy and private philanthropic efforts have attempted to boost the accumulation of assets - namely land, homes, investments—among lower-income households.

The course will review the drivers of growing inequality, the successes and failures of the asset-building movement, changes in the US economic context and how anti-poverty policy has and has not changed as a result. We will place the current U.S. situation in context, both historically and globally. The course will consider how effective policy addresses the factors undermining asset formation such as historic discrimination, predatory practices, consumer psychology and financial product availability. The course, which is participatory and interactive, will conclude with students conceptualizing their own policies (public or private) to address wealth inequality.


MPA students have completed Intro to CORE-GP.1022 and CORE-GP.1018; planning students have completed URPL-GP.2608

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