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Economics 480

ECON 480
Labor Economics

1. Catalog Entry

ECON 480
Labor Economics

Credit hours (3)
Prerequisites: ECON 206

Covers history of the labor movement, union-management relations, the non-unionized worker, wage theory, and unemployment in context of the application of economic theory to problems of labor.

2. Detailed Description of Course

The primary objective of this course is to introduce students to the recent history of U.S. labor policy, trends in employment, unemployment, wages and income distribution, and theoretical explanations for these policies and labor market outcomes.  With regard to the latter, the course is designed to introduce the students to both neoclassical and institutional explanations of the wage determination process.  When taught as an oral-intensive course it also includes very close scrutiny of the most recent labor policy debates.

Topic Outline
    1) Introduction to the Labor Markets
    2) The Supply of Labor
    3) Labor Force Participation
    4) The Demand for Labor
    5) The Determination of Wages
    6) Human Capital
    7) Occupational Wage Differentials
    8) Discrimination in the Labor Market
    9) Collective Bargaining
    10) Current Issues

3. Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The following teaching strategies will be employed:

Lectures, discussion, possibly some student debates depending on the instructors’ preference.

4. Goals and Objectives of the Course

This course has three objectives.  Students will be able to:

    1) Explain the shift from Keynesian high wage labor policies in the 1960s and 1970s to labor cost
        containment policies in the 1980s and 1990s.
    2) Discuss recent trends in the demand for labor: types of jobs, employment levels,
        unemployment, foreign competition.
    3) Discussed demographic changes in labor supply: population growth, race, gender, and age
        composition.
    4) Examine those theoretical factors that determine the firm’s demand for labor and constitute its
        derived nature.
    5) Examine those theoretical factors that determine the household supply of labor.
    6) Demonstrate how the interaction of firm demand for and household supply of labor determine
        the equilibrium wage rate in a perfectly competitive market structure.
    7) Examine the effects of shifts in demand and supply on the equilibrium wage rate.
    8) Discuss the operation of the labor market in reality with respect to employment (occupational
        structure) and wage structures.
    9) Discuss labor market outcomes during the 1980s and 1990s as evidence in the distribution of
        income and the distribution of wealth.
    10)Demonstrate the effect of monopoly in the product market on wage determination.
    11)Demonstrate the effect of oligopoly in the product market on wage determination.
    12)Demonstrate the effect of monopsony in the labor market on wage determination.
    13)Examines theoretically the effect of labor unions on the wage determination process using
         wage-employment preference paths.
    14)Discuss the importance of differing levels of human capital to the distribution of jobs and
         wages in the economy.
    15)Discuss the decision-making process involved in both public and private investments in
         improving human capital.
    16)Introduce the notion of a heterogeneous labor supply and job content to the discussion of
         wage determination.
    17)Examine the theoretical underpinnings of segmented labor markets.
    18)Compare human capital and segmented labor market theories of wage determination and
         income distribution.

5. Assessment Measures

Students will be evaluated on the basis of tests, homework problems, other assignements, and class participation.  The individual professor will determine the respective weights of each test and assignment.

6. Other Course Information

None

Review and Approval

September 2, 2014
December 2013 C. Vehorn
April 16, 2012
April 13, 2009
September 7, 2001 N. Hashemzadeh, Chair