Poverty and Vulnerability (PEC4382.01)

Lopamudra Banerjee

In economics, poverty indicates a dearth, or a shortfall, that exists in people’s material standard of living, and vulnerability is studied as a chance of becoming poor for people who are nonpoor at the moment. Four key questions arise in the economic analyses of poverty and vulnerability: who is poor and which are the more vulnerable sections of a population?; how to measure poverty and assess vulnerability?; why does poverty persists, and why is the chance of becoming poor greater for some people than the others?; and, how to address poverty and vulnerability? The first two questions are in the realm of positive analyses in economics, the third entails causal analyses of poverty, while the forth involves normative analyses that guides us in our social decisions and policy making. This seminar will explore each of these questions.

This is an advanced-level research seminar designed for students in their third and fourth years of college. We will explore the key concepts in the course verbally and through written expositions, and use mathematical formulations to express the ideas in formal terms. The course will involve a close analysis of household-survey datasets. We will make use of the empirical findings to provide evidential support to our arguments. For this, prior knowledge of data analyses is desired and some familiarity with spreadsheet analyses of data is expected. Some prior knowledge of statistical theory/applications will be advantageous. Additionally, prior knowledge of economics is necessary to take this course.

The course has two requirements: [a] Class participation and attendance, and [b] a research project and related homework assignments.

The course will be taught through [A] one two-hour long synchronous meeting each week to be attended by all students in the class for lectures, data workshops, class discussions and collective sharing of ideas; together with [B] asynchronous group tutorial meetings [normally between three or four students and the course instructor] based around conversations on students’ work and research questions.


Learning Outcomes:
The course has two aims: [1] It is designed to help students gain a critical understanding of foundational theories of poverty and vulnerability in economics and political economy, and master the applied tools necessary to create their own research. [2] It is devised for guiding them in formulating their own thesis questions and provide empirical supports to their arguments. Students will be invited to expand their knowledge through active, self-determined investigation.

Throughout this course, students will expand their capabilities of critical analytical thinking and progress in their capacities to research, create and communicate.



Delivery Method: Hybrid
Prerequisites: The prerequisites for this course include at least one prior courses in economics in addition to at least one prior 2000-level course in SCT. Prior knowledge of data analyses is desirable and some familiarity with spreadsheet analyses of data is expected. Some prior knowledge of statistical theory/applications will be advantageous. Also, approval of course instructor is required (contact: lbanerjee@bennington.edu). Prioritization of registration | Students should email the course instructor with an expression of interest, and explain [in few sentences] [a] why they are interested in this course, [b] if the course fit with their academic plan, and, if yes, then how, [c] if they fulfil the prerequisites for the course and what courses [that would satisfy the prerequisite criterion] have they taken before [stating the course name and level of prior courses in economics/political economy, SCT, mathematics etc. The emails should be received by May 15.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
T/F 4:10PM - 6:00PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 10
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: Hybrid , All courses , Updates , Political Economy
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