Spring 2014
  • Reading Piketty in India: Here is my take on the lessons for India from Piketty’s (excellent) book.
  • Stiglitz on inequality in the US: Here is the address made by Professor Stiglitz to the US Senate Budget Committee last week (April 1 014).  This is a good summary of both the reasons why there is so much concern about inequality in the US and on what can be done about it, though it is brief on the latter.
  • Early childhood development: A new study came out last week (March 2014) in Science that follows up on a well-known old study of the benefits of early child development (ECD), called the Carolina Abecedarian Project. A random sample of kids were given intensive pre-schooling, while others were the controls. The old study had established gains to kids in their later learning ability. The new study followed up the adults, and found gains in their health. Here are two write-ups summarizing the new study: first in the New York Times, and second in Science.
  • Three articles in the Economist magazine (Feb 2014) related to the course: The first one, on early childhood development. The second is on cash versus in-kind transfers. The third is on slums.
  • This blog post on the mental health and psychological dimensions of inequality. Wilkinson has written a lot on this topic, and this is a good summary of his views.
  • Here are three short articles that might be of interest on the raging debate about high and rising inequality in the US. First, by David Brooks in NYT, second by Robert Reich (commenting on Brooks) and the third from Economix.
  • Income mobility in the US.  This new study comes at a time when there is much concern about high and rising inequality in the US. Across the political spectrum, people are especially worried that upward mobility has declined; that the children of the poor have even less chance today of becoming rich in America. The results of this interesting new study–by good scholars using a huge new data set drawing on income tax records–appear to be broadly consistent with past findings suggesting that there is less upward mobility in the US than some other developed countries.
  • Purchasing power parities: See this article in the Economist magazine on its “Big Mac Index.”  This is pedagogically interesting but too simple a PPP exchange rate–we will be using a better PPP index in the course.
  • This Bill Gates interview stresses the importance of properly acknowledging our past progress against poverty, so as to help assure progress is maintained.
  • Today (Jan 8, 2014) is the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson “War on Poverty” in the US. This is getting media coverage. Here are a few links. First, from the National Review. Second from The Guardian. Third from Crooks and Liars. There is also a nice blog post here from Pew Research, which gives a hint of some of the measurement issues we will start to look at in the course.

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