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Economics of the Underprivileged: Starting Small to Make a Big Difference in the World

This course is expected to run but has not yet been scheduled.

Course Description

Do you want to contribute to the making the world free of poverty? Are you curious about why nothing seems to solve this global problem? This course will introduce you to the field of development economics, it will help you understand the economic problems of less developed countries and provide you insights into some key issues facing policy makers today.

With over 2 billion people in the world living with less than $2 cents per day, it is imperative to have an understanding of the lives of these so called poor. This course will do just that.

The course aims to:

1. Introduce the fundamental concepts in development economics such as the poverty traps, health, education, consumption, savings, credit and insurance

2. Elucidate the decision making process followed by the poor, based on fundamental economic principles such as:
a. Choice (with an increase in income do the poor buy the food that provide the most nutrition or the food which is tastier?)
b. Incentives (does giving bed nets to the poor for free reduce the incidence of malaria?)
c. Tradeoffs (how do the poor choose to spend their income when increasing the consumption of one good means they will have to decrease the consumption of some other good?) and
d. Externalities (how do the actions of the neighbors affect my wellbeing?)

3. Explain how poverty is not just the lack of income but the lack of education, health, quality of life and access to credit; and

4. Evaluate the interventions that have been tried in the past such as conditional cash transfer programs, universal health care coverage, provision of school supplies, along with the effectiveness of each intervention.

By the end of this course, students will:

- Have a working knowledge of the field of development economics;
- Understand the day-to-day living of the poor, a crucial first step to be able to solve their problems
- Know how they can intervene to make a difference

Knowledge of basic algebra is recommended but most arguments will rely on strong reasoning skills.