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RUTGERS, THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW JERSEY

SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK


Policy Perspectives on Poverty and Inequality
19:910:544
Spring 2013
Time: Wednesdays 8:30 11:10 am
Location: School of Social Work (536 George St.), room 209
Professor: Lenna Nepomnyaschy, PhD
Email: lennan@ssw.rutgers.edu
Office: 536 George St., room 205, hours by appt.
I.

Course Description

Confronting issues of poverty and inequality is a core value of the social work profession. This
course will provide students with a theoretical, empirical, and analytical understanding of
poverty and inequality in the US. Throughout the course comparisons will be made with other
developed nations. The course will address the following four broad areas:
First, we will explore a number of competing theoretical perspectives on the causes of poverty
and inequality and examine the roles of ideology and values in the response to poverty and
inequality in the US and other wealthy nations.
Second, we will examine the extent and characteristics of poverty and inequality in the US. This
will include an understanding of how these concepts are measured, as well as their patterns and
dynamics over recent decades. The course will explore how the risk of poverty varies with
respect to differences in race, ethnicity, gender, age, family background, and geographical
residence. Comparisons will be made with other developed countries.
Third, the course will examine the effects and consequences of poverty on individuals, families,
and communities. These will include the detrimental effects of poverty and inequality upon
health, education, and life chances. We will again compare these effects with those in other
wealthy nations.
Finally, the course will review social policies in the US which directly or indirectly impact
poverty and inequality and will compare them to those in other developed countries. We will also
examine the role of social work in addressing and confronting issues of poverty, inequality and
social justice more broadly.
II.

Place of Course in Program

This course is a foundation year elective and is open to all interested students who have
completed Social Welfare Policy and Services I (SWPS I). The course is also open to doctoral
students and to graduate students from other schools and departments.

III.

Course Objectives:

At the conclusion of this course, students will:

1. Understand and critically evaluate the roles of ideology and values in societys views of
and response to poverty and inequality.
2. Understand the different measures of poverty and inequality, and their consequences for
the social construction of the problem, policy response, and political debate.
3. Be familiar with the extent, patterns, and trends of poverty and inequality in the US and
how they are distributed across demographic groups and geographic areas in the US.
4. Understand how poverty and inequality impact all aspects of individual, family, and
community well-being in the US.
5. Understand the role of public policy and its implementation in producing, maintaining
and alleviating poverty and inequality in the US and how this compares with other
developed countries.
6. Understand and appreciate the role that social workers can play in addressing and
confronting issues related to poverty and inequality through clinical practice, policy
practice, research, advocacy and all other forms of social work practice.
IV.

Social Work Core Competencies and Practice Behaviors

1. Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly


a. advocate for client access to the services of social work
2. Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice
a. make ethical decisions by applying standards of the NASW Code of Ethics.
b. apply strategies of ethical reasoning to arrive at principled decisions
3. Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments
a. distinguish, appraise, and integrate multiple sources of knowledge, including researchbased knowledge, and practice wisdom
b. analyze models of assessment, prevention, intervention, and evaluation
c. demonstrate effective oral and written communication in working with individuals,
families, groups, organizations, communities, and colleagues
4. Engage diversity and difference in practice
a. recognize the extent to which a cultures structures and values may oppress, marginalize,
alienate, or create or enhance privilege and power
5. Advance human rights and social and economic justice
a. understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination
b. advocate for human rights and social and economic justice
c. engage in practices that advance social and economic justice
6. Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research
a. use research evidence to inform practice

7. Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment


a. utilize conceptual frameworks to guide the processes of assessment, intervention, and
evaluation
b. critique and apply knowledge to understand person and environment
8. Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective
social work services
a. analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance social well-being
9. Respond to contexts that shape practice
a. continuously discover, appraise, and attend to changing locales, populations, scientific
and technological developments, and emerging societal trends to provide relevant serves
b. provide leadership in promoting sustainable changes in service delivery and practice to
improve the quality of social services
10. Intervene and evaluate interventions on behalf of clients
a. negotiate, mediate, and advocate for clients
b. critically analyze, monitor, and evaluate interventions

V.

Course Requirements

Students are expected to attend class, arrive on time, and be present for the entire session.
Students are also expected to complete all assigned readings so that they can fully participate in
class discussions.
Students are expected to read The New York Times regularly to be fully informed of current
events that are related to issues of poverty and inequality in the US and globally.
Students will write several short papers related to required readings, have one longer written
assignment, one take-home exam, and will present several current events articles to the class.
All course materials are on the Sakai website for the course. Students are expected to access
readings, lecture slides, and all other material and submit assignments through the website.
Students are expected to read emails and announcements sent by the professor through their
Rutgers email account to stay informed of any last minute changes in the course schedule,
readings, or assignments.

VI.

Grading

Grades for the course will be based on the following criteria:


1. Four short papers on class readings (40%)
Students will sign up to prepare four short papers (2-3 pages maximum) for four
class sessions. These papers will very briefly summarize the readings for that
session by focusing on several questions that are posed for each session. Students
will be prepared to help facilitate class discussion for that session.

2. One take home final exam (25%)


The exam will evaluate students understanding of the concepts discussed in class and
their ability to critically apply those concepts. Exam will be based on readings, videos,
lectures and class discussions.
3. Ethnography reading response (20%)
Students will prepare a short summary of their chosen ethnography, tying the work to the
concepts covered in readings, lectures, and class discussions. Please see assignment sheet
for specific instructions. Students will also discuss their chosen ethnography in class.
4. Current events (10%)
Students will sign up for two class sessions for which they will bring in a relevant
article from a national or local newspaper. They will write up a one-page
summary of the article and explanation of how it is related to our course. Two students
will be selected each session to briefly present their article to the class.
5. Attendance and participation (5%)
Students are expected to attend each class, arrive on time, and stay for the entire session.
Students are also expected to be prepared for class by having read the assigned material
and to participate in class discussions.

VII.

Course Evaluation

Rutgers University issues a survey that evaluates both the course and the instructor. This survey
is completed by students toward the end of the semester, and all answers are confidential and
anonymous. The instructor may also choose to conduct a mid-semester evaluation.
VIII. Academic Integrity
All work submitted in a graduate course must be your own.
It is unethical and a violation of the Universitys Academic Integrity Policy to present the ideas
or words of another without clearly and fully identifying the source. Inadequate citations will be
construed as an attempt to misrepresent the cited material as your own. Use the APA citation
style which is described in the Publication manual of the American Psychological Association,
6th edition.
Plagiarism is the representation of the words or ideas of another as ones own in any academic
exercise. To avoid plagiarism, every direct quotation must be identified by quotation marks or
by appropriate indentation and must be properly cited in the text or footnote. Acknowledgement
is required when material from another source is stored in print, electronic, or other medium and
is paraphrased or summarized in whole or in part in ones own words. To acknowledge a
paraphrase properly, one might state: to paraphrase Platos comment and conclude with a
footnote identifying the exact reference. A footnote acknowledging only a directly quoted
statement does not suffice to notify the reader of any preceding or succeeding paraphrased
material. Information which is common knowledge, such as names of leaders of prominent

nations, basic scientific laws, etc., need not be footnoted; however, all facts or information
obtained in reading or research that are not common knowledge among students in the course
must be acknowledged. In addition to materials specifically cited in the text, only materials that
contribute to ones general understanding of the subject may be acknowledged in the
bibliography. Plagiarism can, in some cases, be a subtle issue. Any question about what
constitutes plagiarism should be discussed with the faculty member.
Plagiarism as described in the Universitys Academic Integrity Policy is as follows: Plagiarism:
Plagiarism is the use of another persons words, ideas, or results without giving that person
appropriate credit. To avoid plagiarism, every direct quotation must be identified by quotation
marks or appropriate indentation and both direct quotation and paraphrasing must be cited
properly according to the accepted format for the particular discipline or as required by the
instructor in a course. Some common examples of plagiarism are:

Copying word for word (i.e. quoting directly) from an oral, printed, or electronic source
without proper attribution.
Paraphrasing without proper attribution, i.e., presenting in ones own words another
persons written words or ideas as if they were ones own.
Submitting a purchased or downloaded term paper or other materials to satisfy a course
requirement.
Incorporating into ones work graphs, drawings, photographs, diagrams, tables,
spreadsheets, computer programs, or other nontextual material from other sources
without proper attribution.
Plagiarism along with any and all other violations of academic integrity by graduate and
professional students will normally be penalized more severely than violations by undergraduate
students. Since all violations of academic integrity by a graduate or professional student are
potentially separable under the Academic Integrity Policy, faculty members should not
adjudicate alleged academic integrity violations by graduate and professional students, but
should refer such allegations to the appropriate Academic Integrity Facilitator (AIF) or to the
Office of Student Conduct. The AIF that you should contact is Antoinette Y. Farmer,
848.932.5358. The student shall be notified in writing, by email or hand delivery, of the alleged
violation and of the fact that the matter has been referred to the AIF for adjudication. This
notification shall be done within 10 days of identifying the alleged violation. Once the student
has been notified of the allegation, the student may not drop the course or withdraw from the
school until the adjudication process is complete. A TZ or incomplete grade shall be assigned
until the case is resolved. For more information regarding the Rutgers Academic Integrity
Policies and Procedures, see:http://academicintegrity.rutgers.edu/academic-integrity-at-rutgers.
To promote a strong culture of academic integrity, Rutgers has adopted the following honor
pledge to be written and signed on examinations and major course assignments submitted for
grading: On my honor, I have neither received nor given any unauthorized assistance on this
examination.

IX.

Disability Accommodation

Any student who believes that s/he may need an accommodation in this class due to a disability
should contact the University Office of Disability Services, Lucy Stone Hall, Livingston Campus
54 Joyce Kilmer Avenue, Suite A145, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8045.
email address: dsoffice@rci.rutgers, Phone: (848) 445-6800, fax: (732) 445-3388, for a letter of
accommodation. (Undergraduate New Brunswick students should contact the Coordinator for
Students with Disabilities for their College.)
Any student, who has already received a letter of accommodation, should contact the instructor
privately to discuss implementation of his/her accommodations immediately. Failure to discuss
implementation of accommodations with the instructor promptly may result in denial of your
accommodations.
X.

Required Texts
Schiller, Bradley. 2008. Economics of Poverty and Discrimination, 10th Edition. Upper
Saddle River: Prentice Hall.
AND ONE of these ethnographies
Newman, Katherine. 2006. Chutes and Ladders: Navigating the Low-Wage Labor
Market. New York: Russell Sage.
OR
Edin, Kathryn & Maria Kefalas. 2005. Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put
Motherhood Before Marriage. Berkeley: University of California Press
OR
Lein, Laura & Schexnayder, Deanna. 2007. Life After Welfare: Reform and the
Persistence of Poverty. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

XI.

Course Outline

Part I: Understanding Poverty & Inequality


Week 1: January 23, 2013
Topic: Introduction
Course overview
Why study poverty and inequality?
Required Readings:
Select ONLY TWO of the following articles to read for the 1st day of class:
Rivlin, Gary. 2007. The millionaires who don't feel rich. The New York Times. New
York, NY: Aug 5, 2007, (p. A1).
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/05/technology/05rich.html?dlbk
Eduardo Porter. 2010. How superstars pay stifles everyone else. The New York Times.
New York, NY: December 25, 2010.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/26/business/26excerpt.html?pagewanted=all
DeParle, Jason. 2012. For Many Poor Students, Leap to College Ends in a Hard Fall. The
New York Times. December 22, 2102.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/23/education/poor-students-struggle-as-class-plays-agreater-role-in-success.html?emc=tnt&tntemail0=y&_r=0
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/12/22/education/Affluent-Students-Have-anAdvantage-and-the-Gap-Is-Widening.html?ref=education

Week 2: January 30, 2013


Topic: Views of poverty
Questions to Consider
Why are there poor people?
How have views of public responsibility for poor evolved historically?
What role do values and ideology play in thinking about poverty?
What are the different views of and perspectives on the potential causes of poverty?
Which views are more in line w/conservative political ideologies and which are more in
line w/liberal or progressive ideologies?
Required Readings:
Schiller, Chapter 1: Views of Poverty and Inequality. (p. 1 18).
Iceland, John. 2007. Early Views of Poverty in America. Chapter 2 (p. 10 19). In
Poverty in America: A Handbook. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Haveman, Robert. 2009. What Does It Mean to Be Poor in a Rich Society? Focus 26(2):
81-86. Institute for Research on Poverty. University of Wisconsin Madison.

Rector, Robert & Sheffield, Rachel. 2011. Understanding Poverty in the United States:
Surprising Facts About Americas Poor. Backgrounder. Heritage
Foundation, Washington, DC. JUST READ Executive Summary: (p. 1-2).
Botheac, Melissa & Cooper, Donna. 2011. What You Need When Youre Poor: Heritage
Foundation Hasnt a Clue. Center for American Progress. (1 page)
Sherman, Arloc. 2004. Hardships Are Widespread Among Families in Poverty. Center on
Budget and Policy Priorities. (p.1-7).
Kenworthy, Lane & Owens, Lindsay. 2012. Political Attitudes, Public Opinion, and the
Great Recession. A Great Recession Brief. Russell Sage Foundation and the Stanford
Center on Poverty and Inequality. (p. 1-5).
Suggested:
Piven, Frances and Cloward, Richard. 1993. Relief, labor and civil disorder: An
overview. Chapter 1 (p. 3-42). In Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare.
New York: Vintage Books.

Week 3: February 6, 2013


Topic: Measuring poverty
Questions to Consider
How is poverty officially measured in the US?
What are alternative measures?
What are the arguments for and against different poverty measures?
How big is the problem?
Who is poor in the US? Who is at greatest risk?
How do these statistics change when using different measures?
How do we compare to other developed countries?
How have things changed?
Required Readings:
Schiller, Chapter 3: Counting the Poor, (p. 36-66).
Short, Kathleen. 2012. The Research: Supplemental Poverty measure: 2011. Current
Population Reports. US Census Bureau. P60-244. (p. 1-20).
Unicef, Innocenti Centre, 2012. Measuring Child Poverty. Florence, Italy: Innocenti
Centre Report. Report Card 10.
Acs, Gregory & Nichols, Austin. 2010. America Insecure: Changes in the Economic
Security of American Families. The Urban Institute. Low-Income Working Families,
Paper 16. (p. 1-22).
Raphael, Steven & Smolensky, Eugene. 2009. Immigration and Poverty in the United
States. Focus, 26(2): 27-31.

U.S. Census Bureau. 2012. Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the
United States, 2011. Look at the figures, tables, and summary. Current Population
Reports. Washington, DC. P60-243.
http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p60-243.pdf
2012 Federal Poverty Guidelines and Thresholds:
http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/12poverty.shtml
Useful Resource:
U.S. Census Bureau. Poverty Website.
http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/

Week 4: February 13, 2013


Topic: Inequality
Questions to Consider
What is inequality and how does it differ from poverty?
Can inequality be good? Can it be bad?
How is inequality measured?
What is the extent of inequality in the US?
What is social mobility and how is it related to inequality?
How does the US compare to other developed countries on these measures?
FILM: PBS, Frontline Documentary: The Two Nations of Black America
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/race/etc/synopsis.html
Required Readings:
Schiller, Chapter 2: Inequality, (p. 18-35).
Fischer, Claude S., Hout, Michael, Jankowski, Martin Sanchez, Lucas Samuel R.,
Swidler, Ann & Voss, Kim. 2007. Inequality by design. Chapter 3 (p. 18 22). In Grusky
& Szelenyi (eds.), Inequality Reader: Contemporary and Foundational Readings in
Race, Class, and Gender. Cambridge, MA: Westview Press.
Krueger, Alan B. 2007. Inequality, too much of a good thing. Chapter 4 (p. 23 31). In
Grusky & Szelenyi (eds.), Inequality Reader: Contemporary and Foundational Readings
in Race, Class, and Gender. Cambridge, MA: Westview Press.
Pew Charitable Trusts. 2012. Pursuing the American Dream: Economic Mobility Across
Generations. (p. 1-27)
http://www.pewstates.org/projects/economic-mobility-project-328061
Pew Charitable Trusts. 2011. Does America Promote Mobility As Well As Other
Nations? Economic Mobility Project. (p. 1-5).
Saez, Emannuel. 2012. Striking It Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United
States, 2010. (p. 1-10). SKIM TEXT, LOOK CLOSELY AT TABLE AND GRAPHS.

Unicef, Innocenti Centre, 2010. Children Left Behind: A league table of inequality in
child well-being in the worlds rich countries. Florence, Italy: Innocenti Centre Report.
Report Card 9. SKIM TEXT, TAKE A LOOK AT TABLES AND GRAPHS

Week 5: February 20, 2013


Topic: Inequality (contd): Wealth, Race, and Inequality
Questions to Consider
What is the difference between income and wealth?
How does wealth contribute to inequality?
Why is wealth inequality greater than income inequality?
What is the extent of wealth inequality in the US?
Why are African-Americans particularly disadvantaged with regards to wealth?
Required Readings:
Economic Policy Institute. 2012. The State of Working America, Chapter 6. Wealth:
Unrelenting Disparities. Cornell University Press. (p. 375-413 SKIP The Racial Divide
in Wealth)
Oliver, Melvin & Thomas M. Shapiro. 1997. Chapter 1: Race, Wealth, and Inequality.
In Black Wealth/White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality. New York:
Routledge. (p. 11-32)
Oliver, Melvin & Thomas M. Shapiro. 1997. Chapter 2: A Sociology of Race and
Inequality. (p. 33-52).
Pew Research Center. 2011. Wealth Gaps Rise to Record Highs between Whites, Blacks,
and Hispanics. Social & Demographic Trends. (p.1-32).
National Center for Children in Poverty. 2010. Asset Poverty and Debt Among Families
with Children. (p. 1-12)
http://www.nccp.org/publications/pdf/text_918.pdf

Part II: Causes of Poverty & Inequality


Week 6: February 27, 2013
Topic: Causes of poverty & Inequality: Employment, Wages, Family Structure, Education,
Ability, Culture, Health
Questions to Consider
What are some characteristics of our economic and political system that contribute to
poverty and inequality?
If everyone had a job would poverty be eradicated? Why or why not?
What individual or family characteristics contribute to poverty and inequality?
Are these causal relationships?
How would someone from a conservative political perspective view these reasons as
opposed to someone from a liberal or progressive political perspective?

Based on these competing ideologies or political perspectives, what might be the


potential policy prescriptions for reducing poverty?

Required Readings:
Pick THREE of the following SIX Schiller Chapters to Read:
Schiller, Chapter 5: Labor force participation (p. 79 101).
Schiller, Chapter 6: The working poor (p. 102 119).
Schiller, Chapter 7: Age and health (p. 120-139).
Schiller, Chapter 8: Family size and family structure (p. 140 154).
Schiller, Chapter 9: The underclass: Culture and race (p. 155-171).
Schiller, Chapter 10: Education and ability, (p. 172 186).
AND
Mishel, Lawrence. 2012. Unions, Inequality, and Faltering Middle-Class Wages, EPI
Issue Brief 342. In The State of Working America, 12th Edition. Economic Policy
Institute. (p. 1-12)
Autor, David. 2011. The Polarization of Job Opportunities in the U.S. Labor Market:
Implications for Employment and Earnings. Center for American Progress. Introduction
and Summary ONLY (p. 1-7).
National Employment Law Project. 2012. The Low-Wage Recovery and Growing
Inequality. (p. 1-8).

Week 7: March 6, 2013


Topic: Causes of Poverty & Inequality: Discrimination
Questions to consider
How can discrimination be measured?
What are the different types of discrimination?
How does discrimination in education, employment, housing, credit, and consumer
markets lead to poverty and inequality?
Which groups are at risk?
How does gender fit into this?
What is the relationship between discrimination and segregation?
FILM: True Colors, 1991. Primetime Documentary
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyL5EcAwB9c
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOS3BBmUxvs
Readings:
Schiller, Bradley. Chapter 11: Discrimination in Education. (p. 187-207)
Pager, Devah & Hana Shepherd. 2008. The Sociology of Discrimination: Racial
Discrimination in Employment, Housing, Credit, and Consumer Markets. Annual
Review of Sociology 34:181-209.

Massey, Douglas S. & Denton, Nancy A. 2007. American Apartheid: Segregation and the
Making of the Underclass, chapter 18 (p. 153 164). In Grusky & Szelenyi (eds.),
Inequality Reader: Contemporary and Foundational Readings in Race, Class, and
Gender. Cambridge, MA: Westview Press.
Orfield, Gary, Kucsera, John & Siegel-Hawley, Genevieve. 2012. Deepening Double
Segregation for More Students. READ Executive Summary Only, (p. 7-14). Civil
Rights Project, University of California, Los Angeles.
England, Paula. 2005. Gender Inequality in Labor Markets: The Role of Motherhood
and Segregation. Social Politics 12: 264-288.
Implicit Discrimination Test: Register and Take the Test (this will take 10-15 minutes).
Make note of your results for yourself. You will NOT need to reveal your results in class.
https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/research/

Week 8: March 13, 2013


Topic: Causes of Poverty & Inequality: Incarceration
Questions to Consider
How can incarceration be both a cause and a consequence of poverty and inequality?
How have policies contributed to incarceration rates in the US?
How do incarceration/corrections rates in the US compare with other countries?
Which groups are most at risk of involvement with the corrections system? Why?
How are former convicts disadvantaged in the labor market?
What is the role of race
What is disenfranchisement? Who is most affected?
How can disenfranchisement be both a cause and a consequence of poverty and
inequality?
FILM & AUDIO: NPR Special Report: Economics of Prisons (2 parts: 18 minutes)
http://www.npr.org/2011/03/25/134850972/town-relies-on-troubled-youth-prison-for-profits
http://www.npr.org/2011/03/28/134855801/private-prison-promises-leave-texas-towns-in-trouble

Readings
Western, Bruce. 2006. The Politics and Economics of Punitive Criminal Justice, Chapter
3 (p. 52-81). Punishment and Inequality in America. New York: Russell Sage.
Wakefield, Sara & Uggen, Christopher. 2012. Incarceration and Stratification. Annual
Review of Sociology 36:387-406.
Western, Bruce & Petit, Becky. 2010. Collateral Costs: Incarcerations Effect on
Economic Mobility. Pew Charitable Trusts: Washington, DC. (p. 6-27).
Raphael, Steven. 2007. The Employment Prospects of Ex-Offenders. Focus 25(2):21-26.
Pager, Devah, Western, Bruce, and Sugie, Naomi. 2009. Sequencing Disadvantage:

Barriers to Employment Facing Young Black and White Men with Criminal Records.
Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 623(1): 195-213.
Manza, Jeffrey & Uggen, Christopher. 2006. Introduction (p. 3 -11), in Locked Out:
Felon Disenfranchisement and American Democracy. New York: Oxford University
Press.
Uggen, Christopher, Shannon, Sarah & Manza, Jeff. 2012. State-Level Estimates of
Felon Disenfranchisement in the US, 2010. The Sentencing Project. (p. 1-17).

MARCH 20, 2013: NO CLASS, SPRING BREAK

Part III: Consequences of Poverty & Inequality


Week 9: March 27, 2013
Topic: Socioeconomic Status and Health
Questions to consider
What is a socioeconomic gradient in health?
How does the US compare to other countries?
How can social conditions be a fundamental cause of disease?
What evidence is there to support this?
How else can social conditions get under the skin?
What evidence is there to support this?

FILM: Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? Part I: In Sickness and In


Wealth. (50 mins.)
Required Readings:
Reaching for a Healthier Life: Facts on Socioeconomic Status and Health in the U.S.
2007. John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on
Socioeconomic Status and Health. (p.4-48)
http://www.macses.ucsf.edu/downloads/Reaching_for_a_Healthier_Life.pdf
Link Bruce G. and Phelan Jo. 1995. Social conditions as fundamental causes of
disease. Journal of Health & Social Behavior, 80-94.
Burgard, Sarah. 2012. Is the Recession Making Us Sick? (p. 19-23). Pathways: A
Magazine on Poverty, Inequality, and Social Policy, Fall 2012. Stanford Center on
Poverty and Inequality.
Ludwig, Jens, et al. 2012. Neighborhood Effects on the Long-Term Well-Being of LowIncome Adults. Science 337:1505-1510.

Week 10: April 3, 2013


Topic: Discrimination and Health
Questions to consider
What do we know about differences in health by race/ethnicity in the US?
What role might discrimination play?
How can discrimination impact health?
What evidence is there to support this?
How does discrimination work for different groups?
What is the role of segregation?
FILM: Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? Part II: When the Bough
Breaks. (30 minutes) Part V: Place Matters (30 minutes).
Williams, David R. and Collins, C. 1995. "U.S. Socioeconomic and Racial Differences
in Health: Patterns and Explanations." Annual Review of Sociology, 21:349-386.
Williams, David & Mohammed, S. 2009 Discrimination and Racial Disparities in Health:
Evidence and Needed Research. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 32:20-47.
Williams DR, Collins C. 2001. Racial residential segregation: a fundamental cause of
racial disparities in health. Public Health Reports. 116:404-416.

Week 11: April 10, 2013


Topic: Effects of Poverty on Children
Questions to consider
How and why does poverty impact childrens health, development, and life chances?
What are the mechanisms through which poverty impacts children?
How does duration, timing, and severity of poverty matter for children?
How are neighborhoods related to child development?
What child outcomes are impacted by poverty?
FILM: Frontline Documentary. 2012. Poor Kids: Poverty through the Eyes of Children.
(53 mins.)
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/poor-kids/
Required Reading:
Magnuson, Katherine & Votruba-Drzal, Elizabeth. 2009. Enduring Influences of
Childhood Poverty. In M. Cancian & S. Danziger (eds.), Changing Poverty, Changing
Policies. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Shonkoff, Jack. 2011. Building a Foundation for Prosperity on the Science of Early
Childhood Development. Pathways. Stanford University Center for the Study of
Inequality.
Evans, Gary, Brooks-Gunn, Jeanne & Klebanov, Pamela. 2011. Stressing Out the Poor:
Chronic Physiological Stress and the Income-Achievement Gap. Pathways. Stanford
University Center for the Study of Inequality.

Tough, Paul. 2011. The Poverty Clinic. The New Yorker. March 21, 2011.
Pebley, Anne, R. & Sastry, Nrayan. 2007. Neighborhoods, Poverty, and Childrens WellBeing. Chapter 19 (p. 165 178). In The Inequality Reader: Contemporary and
Foundational Readings in Race, Class, and Gender, Grusky, David B. & Szelenyi,
Szonja (eds.). Cambridge, MA: Westview Press.

Week 12: April 17, 2013


Topic: Catching up and Discussion of Ethnography Papers
Ethnography Reading Assignments Due

Part IV: Addressing Poverty & Inequality


Week 13: April 24, 2013
Topic: Policy Response Policies that address poverty
Questions to consider
What is the difference between welfare and social insurance programs/policies?
Which have been more effective in alleviating poverty? Why?
Which have been less effective? Why?
What are the inherent problems with anti-poverty programs? Conundrums?
Which types of programs are most in line with American values?
Which policies would conservatives most value? What about liberals?
Required Readings:
Schiller, Bradley. Chapter 13: The Welfare Programs
Schiller, Bradley. Chapter 14: Social Insurance Programs
Schiller, Bradley. Chapter 15: Employment Programs (SKIM)
Schiller, Bradley. Chapter 16: Equal Opportunity Programs (SKIM)
Ellwood, David. 1988. Values and the Helping Conundrums (ONLY p. 13-25). In Poor
Support: Poverty in the American Family. New York: Basic Books, Inc.
Romich, Jennifer, Simmelink, Jennifer & Holt, Stephen. 2007. When Working Harder
Does Not Pay: Low-Income Working Families, Tax Liabilities, and Benefit Reductions.
Families in Society 88(3) :418-426.
Bane, Mary Jo. 2009. Poverty Policy and Politics, chapter 13 (p. 367-386) in Changing
Poverty, Changing Policies. Cancian & Danziger (eds.). New York: Russell Sage.

Week 14: May 1, 2013


Topic: Taxes and Spending

Questions to consider
What is the tax burden on different segments of the population?
How has the tax burden changed?
What is the difference between taxes, tax expenditures, government programs?
What role do all these policy instruments play in redistributing wealth?
What do we mean by progressive and regressive taxes? What are examples of each?
Who benefits most from the government? Who benefits the least?
Take Home Exam Distributed Due: Monday, May 13, 2013
Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. 2012. Misconceptions and Realities of Who Pays
Taxes. (p. 1-10)
Obrien, Rourke & Newman, Katherine. 2011. Stop Taxing the Poor. First Focus.
Washington, DC. Article based on: Taxing the Poor: Doing Damage to the Truly
Disadvantaged. Berkeley: University of California Press. (p.1-7)
Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. 2009. Who pays? A Distributional Analysis
of Tax Systems in All 50 States. Introduction and Summary ONLY, (p. 1-14).
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. 2012. Contrary to Entitlement Rhetoric, NineTenths of Entitlement Spending Goes to Elderly, Disabled, and Working Households. (p.
1-7).
Tax Policy Center. 2008. Tax Expenditures (p. 1-18). The Tax Policy Briefing Book.
Urban Institute and Brookings Institution.
Applebaum, Binyamin. 2102. Tax Burden for Most Americans Is Lower Than in the
1980s. New York Times, November 29, 2012.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/30/us/most-americans-face-lower-tax-burden-than-inthe-80s.html?pagewanted=all
Story, Louis. 2012. As Companies Seek Tax Deals, Governments Pay High Price. New
York Times, December 1, 2012.

Week 15: May 8, 2013


Topic: What are the most promising policies?
Questions to consider
What has the experience been in the UK? How successful were they in reducing poverty?
What are some of the most promising social policies that have been enacted or proposed
for the US?
Why are these policies (or why would these policies be if not yet enacted) particularly
helpful at reducing poverty and inequality?

FILM: Critical Condition: Sick and Uninsured in the US

Required Readings:
Waldfogel, Jane. 2009. Chapter 8: Lessons for the US and other countries (p. 166-184).
Britains War on Poverty. New York: Russell Sage.
Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. 2012. Policy Basics: The Earned Income Tax
Credit. (p. 1-3).
http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=2505
Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. 2012. Studies Show that the EITC Encourages
Work and Success at School and Reduces Poverty. (p. 1-13).
http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3793
Reynolds, Arthur et al. 2011. School-Based Early Childhood Education and Age-28
Well-Being: Effects by Timing, Dosage, and Subgroups. Science, 333:360-364.
Jacob, Brian & Ludwig, Jens. 2009. Improving Educational Outcomes for Poor Children.
Focus, 26(2): 56-61.
Wolfe, Barbara. 2011. Poverty and Poor Health: Can Health Care Reform Narrow the
Rich-Poor Gap? Focus 28(2) 25-30. Institute for Research on Poverty. University of
Wisconsin Madison.
Leonhardt, David. 2010. In Health Bill, Obama Attacks Inequality. New York Times,
March 23, 2010.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/24/business/24leonhardt.html
Effects on Different Types of People Interactive Graphic
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/03/24/us/politics/20100319-health-careeffect.html?ref=business