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Health and Wellbeing of the Urban Poor: Labor Markets, Safety Nets, and the Criminal Justice System


East Baltimore
4th term
Population, Family and Reproductive Health
3 credits
Academic Year:
2019 - 2020
Class Times:
  • Monday,  9:00am - 12:00pm
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
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 of U.S. urban poverty, its implications for health and wellbeing, and explores strategies for addressing it. Covers the major theoretical explanations scholars have advanced to explain the persistence of urban poverty in the U.S. including labor markets, residential segregation, welfare policy, family structure, and the criminal justice system. Discusses consequences, particularly related to health and wellbeing of the urban poor. Within each topic area, introduces students to a range of interventions aimed at alleviating urban poverty.

Learning Objectives:

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

  1. Explain how characteristics of the American labor market contribute to poverty in the country, and how those same characteristics directly affect the health and wellbeing of the urban poor
  2. Describe the history and present of the American social safety net, especially as it is utilized in urban areas
  3. Relate the social safety net to health and wellbeing disparities in America
  4. Explain the impact of the criminal justice system on health and wellbeing of urban communities
  5. Engage in high-level peer-led discourse about issues of market and governmental responses to poverty
  6. Produce a written policy analysis, including background research on health implications of poverty and a proposal for intervention
  7. Deliver a professional-level expert briefing on an issue of urban poverty and health disparities
Methods of Assessment:

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

Instructor Consent:

No consent required

Special Comments:

This course is paired with 380.696, Health and Wellbeing of the Urban Poor: Parents, Families and the Urban Context. Students may take either course or both.