Economics for Government – readings on poverty & inequality

Following on from our discussion on poverty and inequality in class yesterday, you may wish to read some more on the topic:

  • Xavier Sala-i-Martin from Columbia University, showing that the world distribution has narrowed over the past thirty years (also check out his bizarre homepage)
  • Martin Feldstein, formerly Reagan’s chief economic adviser, arguing that we should care only about poverty, not inequality. (NB. If you’re reading this from home, the NBER system will try to charge you to download the paper – but it should email it to any .edu address without charge.)
  • Branko Milanovic, from the World Bank, arguing that inequality is a bad thing.
  • Kristin Forbes, from MIT, presenting a robust set of cross-country regressions which demonstrate that inequality is good for growth.
  • Ed Glaeser from Harvard on what we do and don’t know about inequality
  • Gary Solon from Michigan on income mobility in various developed nations
  • Tim Smeeding from Syracuse using the LIS to discuss poverty in rich countries
  • Lester Thurow on the income distribution as a pure public good (more technical, only available if you’re on campus)
  • CIS Peter Saunders arguing in favour of absolute poverty lines
  • SPRC Peter Saunders arguing in favour of relative poverty lines

* Regular readers of this blog may be confused by the fact that I posted some readings on precisely this topic a few months ago. Rest assured that I’m not taking my students in circles (well, not intentionally, anyhow). These readings are for Economics for Government, which I’m teaching at ANU. The last set were for Economics and Public Policy, which I just finished teaching at MBS. I’m grateful to those readers who suggested additional inequality readings last time, and have added some of those to the above list.

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4 Responses to Economics for Government – readings on poverty & inequality

  1. derrida derider says:

    Hmm, no Sen? I know you can’t cover everything in a general course, but if ’twas me I’d have put him ahead of a couple of the others.

  2. patrick says:

    Sorry, I’m too lazy to email you, but I thought this would interest you:

    http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2006/05/open_letter_on_.html

  3. Andrew Leigh says:

    DD, the capability approach is fascinating, but I don’t find Sen very helpful on inequality. His work on health and inequality, for example, has not stood up well to subsequent analysis. But if you think there’s something the class should be reading, by all means post the ref.

    Patrick, thanks for the tip. I’ve asked Alex whether they’re taking non-US signatories, and will post on the issue when he gets back to me.

  4. Andrew Leigh says:

    Two lurkers asked me to post further suggestions on their behalf.

    1. Sen – ‘Chapter 1- Equality of what’ in “Inequality re-examined”, Oxford University Press/Russell Sage Foundation 1992″. This is useful for a couple
    of reasons:

    The discussion highlights the extent to which much of the debate around
    income distribution is a reflection of much bigger debates around values
    and theories of justice.
    It moves the debate beyond the simple income space ( a real limitation
    of most of the readings on your list)
    For Sen, it is very readable
    Your students might be interested enough to read the rest of the book.
    (It is to my mind the best of his on this issue.)

    2. Chapter 5 of the FaCS submission to the Senate Poverty
    Inquiry.

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