Safety net programs that care for the poor and insure risk comprise the largest share of government spending in the U.S. and other developed countries. Making these programs work well is a key policy priority. This course studies policy institutions and economic insights related to means-tested income support, health care, Social Security, disability, and housing support programs. The course is taught via a combination of lectures and in-class discussions and devotes special attention to current policy debates and reform ideas. The course is intended as a survey course for students seeking to broaden their understanding of how safety net programs work in developed countries and how they can be reformed to work better. It builds on topics covered in the core economics curriculum (MPP and MPA-ID), though it is open to all students with relevant economics background (see prerequisites).
Prerequisites: Microeconomics at the level of API-101/109 or equivalent, or permission of the instructor.