Solving economic and social problems with Big Data

ECN425 Solving economic and social problems with Big Data

Autumn 2021

Spring 2022
  • Topics

    What are the short- and the long-term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic? Does globalization affect wages and inequality? Why do women on average earn less than men do? How does immigration affect employment and wages of natives? How do oil booms and busts affect local labor markets? How will automatization of production change labor markets? 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 nine broad themes:

    • Labor supply, labor demand, and labor market equilibrium
    • Pandemics, public health and labor markets
    • Inequality and discrimination
    • Globalization and migration
    • Natural resources, human capital investments,  and labor market outcomes
    • Unemployment and social insurance
    • AI and automatization of production
    • Early child investment
    • Incarceration, recidivism, victimization, and employment

  • Learning outcome


    Upon completion of the course, students will:

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


    Upon completion 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
    • be able to analyze the labor market consequences of large shocks as pandemics, resource booms, or armed conflicts

    General Competence

    Upon completion of the course, students will:

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

  • Teaching

    Plenary lectures (in classroom with video recording), labs, videos, reading groups (in classroom or digital), term paper and class presentation (in groups).

  • Credit reduction due to overlap

    This course is a continuation of SAM478, and you will not get credit for both courses.

  • Requirements for course approval

    Three reading group assignments (Approved/not approved).

  • Assessment

    Updated on October 9th 2020: This course description was previously published with a 50/50 weighing between the two assessment elements. This has been corrected to 30/70 below:

    The final grade will be based on a term paper (2500 words, available August, due in early November) and including a class presentation in groups (30%) and a final written 3-hour exam (70%).

    Language: English.


    UPDATED 12 October 2020: In the autumn of 2020, the school exam will be converted to a: 3-hour individual home exam at the same time as the originally planned exam.

    Grading Scale: A-F

  • Grading Scale

    A - F

  • Computer tools


  • Literature

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

    Selected articles will be distributed on canvas.



ECTS Credits
Teaching language

Autumn. Not offered Autumn 2021.

Course responsible

Professor Aline Bütikofer, Department of Economics