ECN 250A: Labor Economics

This is a second-year PhD course that explores the contemporary evolution of the employment and wage structure, the scope for public policy to remedy labor market imperfections, the economics of job search and job loss, and the margins through which local labor markets adjust to shifts in labor demand.

Beyond our substantive analysis of labor markets, we also discuss practical aspects of the research process: what to look for when reading a paper, how to generate ideas, how to create effective figures and tables, and how to structure a paper.

Here’s the reading list, as taught in Spring 2019.

Selected lecture materials

Lecture(s) Slides Notes Description
1–2 [Notes] Static labor demand
3 [Slides] [Notes] The college wage premium and the “canonical model”
4 [Slides] [Notes] Skill-biased technical change
5 [Slides] [Notes] Tasks, polarization, and the future of work
6 [Slides] [Notes] Amenities, sorting, and compensating differentials
7 [Slides] [Notes] Market concentration and monopsony power
8 [Slides] [Notes] Unions
9 [Slides] The minimum wage: part I
10 [Slides] The minimum wage: part II
11 [Slides] Inter-firm wage differentials
12 [Slides] [Notes] Joblessness and job search
13 Unemployment insurance
14 [Slides] Displaced workers
15 Labor market seasonality
16 [Slides] Unlucky cohorts
17 Alternative work arrangements
18 [Slides] Regional evolutions
19 [Slides] Import competition
20 [Slides] Shift-share instruments


Final exam: Winter 2018 exam solutions
Final exam: Spring 2019 exam solutions