Societies use welfare policies, social insurance, public employment, private charity, and of course, private labor markets to distribute the economic resources that they produce. The mixture of these programs varies tremendously across countries and over time. We will investigate the causes and consequences of the rich variety of strategies that have been used in industrialized democracies to address the problems of economic inequality and poverty. We will also investigate important economic challenges and debates in these countries. For example, we will study recent welfare reforms and tax cuts in the United States as well as current debates over the future of social security. We will also study the possible effects of globalization on domestic well-being and social policy. Throughout the course we will ask how political values and institutions might affect the choices made concerning these issues and challenges.