Insegnamento a.a. 2011-2012



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) - BIEMF (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/02)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (I sem.)

Course Objectives

The purpose of the course is to provide the basic analytical tools which allow students to understand the role played by different institutions in shaping the labour market. The course highlights the redistributive effects of institutions operating in imperfect labour markets, i.e. which are subject to market failures. The course also takes into account that institutions rarely operate in isolation. This provides three reasons for the existence of institutions:

  • remedying market failures, 
  • achieving some redistributive goals,
  • remedying potential negative side effects of other institutions.

From a positive standpoint, the effects of each institution on the labour market are investigated by considering not only their direct effects on employment, unemployment and wages, but also their indirect effects, that is, the effects which are mediated by the presence of other institutions. Much attention is placed on precisely defining institutions and measuring them along their relevant dimensions, (e.g. eligibility for unemployment benefits, level of the benefits, maximum duration for which they can be provided etc.) since accuracy in describing the way in which the institution operates and the goals it pursues is essential in characterizing its effects on the labour market. Statistical information on the evolution over time of these institutions is also provided, whenever possible, for all OECD Countries. Contrary to received wisdom, there have been considerable variations in these institutions over time.

Course Content Summary

  • Labour markets institutions and globalization: an overview
  • Minimum Wages
  • Trade unions and Collective Bargaining Institutions
  • Payroll taxes
  • Regulation of working hours and short-time work
  • Retirement rules and labour market
  • Family policies and women at work
  • Education and training
  • Migration policies
  • Discrimination and equal opportunity legislation
  • Employment protection legislation
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Actives labour market policies and activation
  • Institutional interactions

Detailed Description of Assessment Methods

Final written exam based on typically 3 questions: ranging from theory to comments to some relevant statistics.

Midterm exam limited to those attending the course.


  • t. boeri, j. van ours, The economics of imperfect labour markets, Priceton University Press.

Each chapter contains references to background readings useful for those planning to write their final work on a particular institution.
A website is available for the students with the powerpoint presentations of each lecture and datasets allowing to replicate the main results of the empirical literature.

Exam textbooks & Online Articles (check availability at the Library)


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. In any event a numeric and geometric treatment of many key results is offered to ease the understanding of how institutions operate. In such simpler treatment, all the main arguments are presented and the main results outlined, even though they lack the rigor and the generality that the use of algebra allows.

Last change 15/04/2011 10:23