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Wealth and Inequality: Asset Development and Poverty Reduction Policies in the U.S. — New York University

Financial assets underpin the economic fabric of the U.S. Households’ ability to accumulate wealth is a function of income, intergenerational wealth transfer, private financial products and services, and public policy. This course will examine how the accumulation of such assets - namely land, homes, investments – is and should be stimulated and shaped by government intervention. From tax policy to banking regulation, poverty alleviation programs to anti-discrimination laws, the U.S. government has historically played a critical role in promoting wealth among some groups and excluding others from such privilege.

The course will review new strategies supported by foundations, community practitioners, financial institutions and policymakers for expanding this country’s wealth-formation vehicles – such as individual development accounts and life-long savings accounts. At the same time, the course will consider how effective public policy must understand the factors undermining asset formation such as predatory lending, consumer psychology and financial product availability. The course, which is participatory and interactive, will conclude with students conceptualizing their own assets policies.