ECON 4626 The Economics of Inequality and Discrimination

Instructor Contact

Dr. Jeffrey Zax

About the course

The purpose of this course is to investigate the extent of inequality, its causes and its consequences. This investigation occurs at both the macroeconomic and microeconomic levels. At the macroeconomic level, we discuss the relationship between inequality and growth and the effects of different national institutions on this relationship. At the microeconomic level, we discuss inequality in multiple dimensions. We analyze the individual choices from which and economic contexts in which it arises. We complete this discussion with an examination of discrimination: inequality that arises when disadvantages are imposed through coercive denial of market opportunities.

Course Prerequisites: Requires prerequisite course of ECON 3070 (Intermediate Microeconomic Theory) (min grade C-)

Proctoring: This course requires proctored examinations. Exams are proctored which will require planning on your part. Proctors are individuals who administer the exam process following the guidelines provided by University of Colorado Boulder to ensure academic integrity. Some proctoring options require the student to pay a fee.


By the end of the course you should be able to:

  • Interpret measures of inequality including Lorenz curves and Gini coefficients.
  • Utilize the intuition that motivates the Kuznets curve to understand the relationship between inequality and economic growth
  • Analyze the effects of economic institutions on economic growth and inequality.
  • Understand the sources of inequality in income, health and wealth.
  • Invoke the normative and positive approaches to evaluating inequality.
  • Identify sources of discriminatory behavior and the potential magnitudes of their consequences.
  • Apply microeconomic and macroeconomic concepts of distribution to critically analyze economic situations as presented in case studies.

Required Texts

Consist of articles from the Journal of Economic Perspectives, available from the University of Colorado Boulder Library. The specific articles required for this have been posted in Canvas, for student convenience.


Grading (out of 300 points)

Assignment* Points per Assignment Frequency GRADE POINTS GRADE PERCENTAGE
Pre-lecture assignments       1 *  28 =     28     9%
Post-lecture assignments     2 *  28 =     56 19%
Discussion postings    8 *    2 =     16  5%
Case Study Paper #1   20 *    1 =     20 7%
Case Study Paper #2 30 *    1 =     30 10%
Proctored Exams 75 *    2 =   150 50%
TOTAL         =   300



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Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm


We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.


1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado