Deirdre Bloome Photo

Deirdre Bloome

Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy, HKS; Professor of Sociology, FAS


Even in rich countries, many people are poor, and their chances of moving from poverty to affluence are severely constrained. People often remain stuck in the same social and economic positions as their parents---and this lack of mobility has major consequences for individuals and whole societies, particularly when inequalities between people in different positions are large. What policies and structures shape people's chances of climbing resource ladders, and of facing ladders with wide gaps between their rungs? How can they be changed? In this course, we will consider how social and economic inequalities develop, how they persist across generations, and how people make socioeconomic progress over the course of their lives. For each topic that we cover, we will consider both how past policy choices contributed to present inequalities and how new policy solutions and interventions can enhance social and economic opportunity. Although we will focus on the U.S., we will consider the U.S. in cross-national perspective and learn lessons from around the world and from history. Class sessions will revolve around active learning and discussions in small and large groups.