Labour Economics

ECN425 Labour Economics

Spring 2019

  • Topics

    Does globalization affect wages and inequality? Why do women on average earn less than men? How does immigration affect employment and wages of natives? How do oil booms and busts affect local labor markets? Will automatization of production lead to polarization of the labor market? These are all questions in labor economics discussed in the current policy debate both in Norway and worldwide.

    The objective of the course is to introduce students to topics in labor economics as well as contemporary empirical research in this field.

    The course is divided into eight broad themes:

    • Labor supply, labor demand, and labor market equilibrium
    • Human capital and the returns to education
    • Labor market discrimination
    • Globalization and migration
    • Natural resources and the labor market
    • Wage structure and inequality
    • Social insurance and the labor market
    • Automatization of production and polarization of the labor market
    • Crime

    The course focuses on how labor markets, firms, and the society interact and is therefore complementary to STR435 Personalpolitikk og incentiver, which focuses on economic incentives in human resource management within firms.

  • Learning outcome

    Knowledge: at the end of the course students will:

    • have a sounds knowledge on key topics in labor economics
    • understand the mechanisms of labor supply and labor demand
    • understand empirical methods for testing the implications of theoretical labor market models and interpret the results

    Skills: at the end of the course students will:

    • be able to analyze the impact of various public interventions such as minimum wages, gender equality laws, or increases in welfare benefits on the labor market

    General Competence: at the end of the course students will:

    • be able to debate social policy concerns such as inequality, educational investments,discrimination, natural resource dependency, and immigration

  • Teaching

    Plenary lectures, term paper and class presentation (in groups), reading groups

  • Credit reduction due to overlap

    This course is the same as SAM478, and you will not get credit for both courses.

  • Requirements for course approval

    Three reading group assignments (Approved/not approved).

  • Assessment

    The final grade will be based on a term paper and including a class presentation in groups (30%) and a final written 3-hour school exam (70%).

  • Grading Scale

    A - F

  • Literature

    George Borjas (2008): Labor Economics, Irwin McGraw-Hill.

    Selected articles will be distributed on canvas

    Podcasts from Freakonomics Radio


ECTS Credits
Teaching language


Course responsible

Course responsible associate professor Aline Butikofer.

Lecturers: Aline Butikofer and assistant professor Patrick Dylan Bennett, Department of Economics