Course 2014-2015 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) - BIEMF (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/02)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (I sem.)

Course Objectives

The novelty of this course is that from the start the focus is on labour market institutions and labour market policy. 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 redistributive goals, and iii) 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. Indeed institutions rarely operate in isolation.

Course Content Summary

  • Labour market institutions and their interactions with Product and Financial markets: a framework.
  • Minimum Wages.
  • Unions and Collective Bargaining Institutions.
  • Anti-Discrimination legislation.
  • Regulation of Working Hours.
  •  Early Retirement Plans.
  •  Family Policies.
  •  Education and Training.
  •  Migration Policies.
  •  Employment Protection Legislation.
  • Unemployment Benefits.
  • Active Labour Market Policies and Activation.
  • Payroll Taxes.

Detailed Description of Assessment Methods

The exam is in written form, notably a one-hour written exam with 2-3 questions, carrying each the same weight on the final grade. There is a midterm exam covering the overview lecture as well as institutions II to VI and a final exam covering the remaining institutions. Those not passing the midterm exam will have to take a general exam covering both parts (with 4 to 6 questions and lasting two hours).

Please note that whenever students submit their exam for evaluation, the vote is always be registered.


  • t. boerij. van ours, The economics of imperfect labour markets, Priceton University Press, 2nd edition. 

Each chapter contains references to background readings useful for those planning to write their final work on a particular institution.

  • PDF presentations are provided.
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 25/03/2014 15:30