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Health and Wellbeing of the Urban Poor: Parents, Families, and the Urban Context


East Baltimore
3rd term
Population, Family and Reproductive Health
3 credits
Academic Year:
2019 - 2020
Class Times:
  • Monday,  9:00am - 12:00pm
Auditors Allowed:
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor :
  • Kathy Edin
Kathy Edin



More than one in five U.S children live in poverty. Furthermore, fully 3.4 million children in the U.S. are now desperately poor, living for a least a quarter of a calendar year in households with cash incomes of less than $2 per person per day according to the best government data available, up dramatically from 15 years ago. Why is poverty so widespread and so deep in the world’s richest nation, and what are its consequences for families with children, and especially in the domains of wellbeing and health?

Examines the causes and consequences to health and wellbeing of U.S. urban poverty, with a particular emphasis on the context of private family and neighborhood life. Investigates the implications for the health and well-being of the urban poor and explores strategies for addressing the family and neighborhood contexts of poverty. Outlines variations and changes in family structure among the urban poor, disparities in parenting opportunities and strategies, and the importance of neighborhoods in the health and wellbeing of the urban poor. Evaluates and problematizes past social interventions and their relationship to health outcomes, and introduces a range of possibilities for future action.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify and explain the implications to public health inequalities of differences in parenting cultures and family structures between classes
  2. Describe and utilize theories of neighborhood effects to assess the context of urban poverty, and its implications on the health and well-being outcomes of the urban poor
  3. Evaluate the efficacy of different types of qualitative and quantitative research methods in answering questions about how family and neighborhood affect the health and well-being of the urban poor
  4. Engage in high-level discourse about issues of family and neighborhoods in urban poverty, with a specific emphasis on health and wellbeing
  5. Produce a written policy analysis, including background research on health implications of poverty and a proposal for intervention
  6. Deliver a professional-level expert briefing on an issue of urban poverty and health disparities
Methods of Assessment:

Weekly Reading Responses (25%), Participation (25%), 3 Policy Analysis Assignments (40%), Mock Congressional Briefing (10%)

Instructor Consent:

Consent required for some students

Consent Note:

Advanced undergrads may enroll with permission of instructor.

For consent, contact:

Special Comments:

This course is paired with 380.696, Health and Wellbeing of the Urban Poor: Labor Markets, Safety Nets, and the Criminal Justice System. Students may take either course or both.