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Course 2021-2022 a.y.


Department of Economics

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 31

CLEAM (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/02) - CLEF (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/02) - BESS-CLES (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/02) - WBB (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/02) - BIEF (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/02) - BIEM (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/02) - BIG (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/02) - BEMACS (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/02)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (I sem.)

Suggested background knowledge

The technical level required by the course is modest. Attending students should have taken an introductory course in microeconomics, a semester of calculus and an introductory course in statistics.

Mission & Content Summary

This course is an introduction to labour economics. The course objective is to understand how labour markets operate and how they are affected by institutions and labour market policies. Both empirical evidence and standard theory are covered. The course highlights the effects on efficiency and the redistributive properties of institutions operating in imperfect labour markets, subject to market failures. This provides three reasons for the existence of institutions: i) remedying market failures, ii) achieving some redistribution, and iii) remedying potential negative side effects of other institutions.


The course consists of 14 key lectures. The first lecture set up the stage by introducing workers' labor supply, firms' labor demand, the labor market equilibrium and the institutional wedges. Lecture 2 through 14 deal with specific institutions and have the same setup: a description of the institution, some cross-country comparisons, theory in perfect and imperfect labor markets, empirical evidence on the effects of this institution, interactions with other institutions, and policy issues. 

1. Overview

2. Minimum wages

3. Unions and collective bargaining

4. Antidiscrimination legislation

5. Regulation of working hours

6. Early retirement plans

7. Family policies

8. Education and training

9. Migration policies

10. Employment protection legislation

11. Regulations on self-employment

12. Unemployment benefits and active labor market policies

13. Health related labor policies

14. Payroll taxes

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • State the main evolutions on the OECD labor market institutions over the last decades.
  • Explain the economic models on labor markets and describe their main insights on labor supply, labor demand and equilibrium.
  • State the main estimates of the key parameters of the labor market models.
  • Discuss the role of institutions and public policies on the labor market.
  • Identify empirical contexts that allow to credibly estimate the effects of institutions and public policies on labor market outcomes.
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Develop an ex ante theoretical analysis of the effects of institutions and public policies on employment and wages.
  • Choose and apply the appropriate model to assess the effects of institutions and public policies on labor market outcomes.
  • Interpret the empirical evidence on the effects of shocks (reforms, technology, globalization...) on labor markets.
  • Interact in a constructive way and think critically.

Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Exercises (exercises, database, software etc.)

The learning experience of this course includes, in addition to face-to-face lectures, the solution in class of Exercises proposed to students throughout the course. Those exercises allow students to apply the analytical tools illustrated during the course. Moreover stylized cases taken from scientific journal articles are proposed to students and discussed in class with the purpose of applying the models/methods explained during the course to evaluate the effects of a given institution or public policy. Students are encouraged to bring their own views and to share their insights.

Assessment methods
  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  •   x x

    Attending students will be allowed to take the partial exam covering the first part of the course (from lecture 1 to 7).

    The written exam consists of open questions aimed at assessing a student's: (i) ability to describe the main developments in labor market institutions in OECD countries in the light of the discussions made in class; (ii) familiarity with theoretical economic models and ability to conduct simple comparative statics exercises; (iii) understanding of the main results from the empirical literature and of the strategies adopted to evaluate the effects of public policies.


    Non-attending students will only be allowed to take the general exam.

    Teaching materials

    The course is based on  :

    • T. BOERI, J. VAN OURS, The economics of imperfect labour markets, Princeton University Press, 3rd edition.

    The slides of the course, exercises and additional readings/listenings are uploaded to the Bboard platform of the course.

    Last change 30/09/2021 17:57