Stone Project Courses

The James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Wealth and Income Inequality Project offers a series of courses exploring various facets of inequality.

Glenn Loury

ECON 1370
Spring 2019

We examine racial inequality in the United States, focusing on economic, political, social and historical aspects. Black/white relations in the US are the principle but not exclusive concern. Prerequisite: ECON 1110 or 1130.

Among the issues to be examined are: 1) structural/historical origins of persistent racial inequality; 2) race stereotypes, stigma, segregation, identity, discrimination; 3) paying reparations for past wrongs to achieve “racial justice”; 4) using affirmative action in pursuit of greater racial inclusion; 5) and, race-related aspects of crime, punishment and policing.

Would paying reparations for past wrongs achieve “racial justice”?


ECON 2350B
Fall 2018

This course on economic inequality provides an overview of the most recent empirical research on the extent, the anatomy and the historical evolution of inequality. In addition to these descriptives, it focuses on the causes of inequality, covering research designs from the research frontier. The course also reviews the role of government policies, such as anti-poverty programs and progressive taxes on income and on capital, in affecting inequality.

Why is inequality high and why has it grown?

In the first part, we examine the literature on economic inequality from a fairly descriptive angle. In the second part of the course, we focus on the determinants of inequality. How much of the skewed wealth distribution is driven by self-made fortunes versus inherited wealth? How can educational reforms affect the distribution of income as adults? The third part of the course discusses the public opinion on inequality. Models in political economy predict that an increase in economic inequality will be met by an increase in redistributive policies. Yet, this has not been the case during the last decades. How should we think about the formation of political preferences in conjunction with trends in inequality?


Christina Paxson & David Weil

ECON 0390
Fall 2018

The course begins with issues of measurement and definition. We then turn to examine the economic underpinnings of inequality, including the relationship between education, skill, and income; the intergenerational transmission of wealth and economic status; and the causal relationship between health and income. The third part of the course looks at the driving forces behind the large rise in inequality that has occurred since roughly 1980 as well as differential trends in life expectancy and health behaviors among income groups over this period. The last section examines government policies that impact inequality and the political economy of redistribution.

What is the relationship between inequality and differences in life expectancy?

ECON 2350
Fall 2017

This is a survey course about economic and social inequality with a focus on the applied methods used to examine inequality. The course will provide a broad perspective on the causes and consequences of inequality, develop an understanding of the data and methods used to measure and analyze changes in income and wellbeing, and review selected topics relating to anti-poverty and social policy programs.

What dimensions of inequality matter and why?

How does inequality in the U.S. compare to other wealthy nations? Should we be concerned about rising inequality? We will consider the role of schools in reducing or reproducing inequalities. We will consider how race, class, and gender shape schooling trajectories and how educational policy may be targeted to mitigate key disparities. What is the role of labor market institutions like firms, unions, and the minimum wage? How should we think about taxation and social insurance in the context of rising inequality? What is the role of regulatory policy and governance in inequality, including the role of worker classification and anti-discrimination? How should we structure tax and social policy in light of high and rising inequality?


David Weil

ECON 1565 (Senior Seminar)
Spring 2015

The rise in income inequality in the United States over the last three decades has been one of the most important economic phenomena of the post-World War II period, with enormous implications for individual welfare, social relations, and government policy. The focus in Econ 1565 is on the macroeconomic dimensions of income inequality. How much of national income is paid to capital and how much to labor? What determines the gap in income between workers with different skill levels, as well as variation in income within skill groups? How have changes in technology, openness to trade, government policy, and the quantities of factors themselves contributed to changes in these relative returns? What determines the aggregate quantities of different factors of production as well as their distribution among individuals, and how is this process changing over time?

How does inequality feed back to affect macroeconomic stability and long term growth?