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Econ890: Topics in Income and Wealth

Spring 2021. Prof. Lutz Hendricks. UNC

Course Description

Econ890 is a graduate course aimed at PhD students in their second year or higher. It is part of the macro field but may be of interest to students specializing in public policy or even applied micro.

This course is currently at the planning stage. If you are interested in taking it, please contact me. Input as to what material would be of interest is welcome.

The course will focus the course on wealth and income inequality, mostly within countries. The objectives will be:

  1. Learn about state of the art research in the area of inequality and perhaps cross-country income differences.
  2. Develop ideas for research projects in the area.


The organization will be similar to a reading group.

There will be a few lectures to provide background material and review classic papers from the literature. But most of the course will consist of student presentations that would be structured like discussions at a conference. The assumption is that everyone has read the papers discussed in each class meeting (probably 4 papers a week). The presenters offer insights into what makes each paper tick, what is compelling and what is not. Much of the time will be spent on simply discussing each paper.

Over time, students come up with project ideas. Once a promising idea is identified, each student develops it as far as possible. This will at least entail placing the idea into the context of the literature, identifying the contribution, and outlining a model. The end product would be a fully written up research proposal.

At various points during the class, students present their project ideas and receive comments from the class.

In the past, this course covered computational methods as well. I have come to the conclusion that mixing these with the economic material is not productive. The department needs a dedicated course on computing structural models, but Econ890 is not that.


The outline links to the papers that we will discuss.