Spring 2020

Education and Inequality in the United States

Listed in: Economics, as ECON-419


Joshua M. Hyman (Section 01)


Education is one of the most promising ways to fight inequality, yet inequality in educational attainment is rising in the United States. This course focuses on understanding inequality in education in the U.S., and whether and how education reform can reduce it. The course begins with a brief overview of the historical and current relationship between educational attainment and inequality in the U.S. We then study the empirical economics literature examining whether prominent education policies and reforms reduce inequality in educational attainment. We examine topics in: 1) early childhood education, such as Head Start and universal preschool; 2) K-12 education, such as school finance reform, desegregation, and student-teacher race match; and 3) postsecondary education, such as affirmative action in college admissions, simplifying the college and financial aid application process, and financial aid during college. Throughout the semester, students learn commonly used empirical microeconometric research methods to identify causal impacts, and then employ these tools in their own empirical research paper.

Requisites: ECON 360/361. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Hyman.

If Overenrolled: Preference to junior and senior economics majors and to students interested in education


Attention to Research


2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020