84557 - Labor Economics

Academic Year 2022/2023

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Economics and Finance (cod. 8835)

Learning outcomes

In this course we will analyze how the labor market works, how agents in this special market behave, and how governments regulate and set up institutions to govern the labor market. Whether and how much to work, how much to invest in human capital (skills), unionization, and whether and where to migrate are all examples of decisions on the supply side of the labor market. The combination of labor (or different types of labor) and other factors in production, and job creation and job destruction are examples of decisions on the demand side of the labor market. Minimum wages, unemployment insurance, employment protection legislation, and collective bargaining, are examples of institutions governing the labor market. At the end of the course students will be able to understand the literature and participate in a non-ideological way to the debate about labor issues.

Course contents

This is an undergraduate-level course in labor economics. The goal is to introduce students to the analysis of the labor market and labor market policy. We will cover the following topics:

- Labor supply and demand
- Labor market equilibrium
- Human capital, education, and training
- Compensating wage differentials
- Immigration
- Labor market discrimination
- Automation and the future of work


  • Labor Economics, 7/e, George J. Borjas, Harvard University - Cambridge
  • Research articles assigned during the semester

Teaching methods

Lectures will illustrate theory and empirical applications, and will guide students to independent study and critical thinking.

During classes we will also solve problems from the textbook and past exam. These exercises give students an idea of what to expect at the exam.

Assessment methods

Written exams (midterm and final) consisting of a mix of problem solving, short essay questions, and multiple choice questions. These questions are both theoretical and applied. Students have 75 minutes for each exam.

In order to provide those students who take the midterm and the final at the first appello with free bad-day insurance, the grade at the first appello is computed as follows: the highest grade between the midterm and the final receives a weight of 67% and the lowest receives a weight of 33%. In case the final is taken after the first appello, each part received equal weight. In case the midterm exam is not taken, the final exam will receive a weight of 100%.

The maximum possible grade is 30 cum laude. The grading scale is the following:

<18: Fail

18-23: Sufficient

24-27: Good

28-29: Very good

30: Excellent

30 cum laude: Outstanding (the instructor was impressed)

Teaching tools

The Virtuale platform will provide the following resources:

  • Updated information and notices
  • Class slides
  • Research articles

Office hours

See the website of Giulio Zanella


Gender equality Decent work and economic growth Reduced inequalities

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.