EC 321 X - Labor Economics
MW 5 - 6:15 in CSS-232
Office: Cornell Social Sciences Bldg. 259
Phone 646-2509 Fax 646-2485
This course is about the economics of employment and
unemployment, wages and workers' incomes, and management-employee
relations in the U.S. We will consider such questions as these:
How do labor markets work? How well do they work? Why is there
always unemployment? What things determine workers' wages and
salaries? What do labor unions do? Why is union membership declining
in the U.S. today? Why are real wages declining? The subject of
labor economics is much broader than you might think, and is relevant
for nearly all other subjects in economics. This course will survey
both microeconomic and macroeconomic theories of labor and labor
markets, as well as historical and institutional apects of the
subject. We will examine also the apparently deteriorating material
conditions of working people today, and some public policy approaches
to correcting this development.
Most classes will have a lecture/discussion format, but there
will also be several videos shown, guest appearances by local
labor leaders, and possibly other special class events. Class
attendence is not required, but it is very strongly recommended
that besides reading and studying regularly you attend all classes:
unannounced quizzes or special assignments will occasionally be
given in class (videos, guest speakers and special events will
be announced in advance), and lectures and discussions will very
frequently focus on matters not directly covered in the readings
or homework. Do the assigned readings ahead of time (as scheduled
below), so that you'll be prepared to participate intelligently
in the class discussions and perform satisfactorily on unannounced
quizzes, etc. Grades will be determined by your work on three
in-class exams as scheduled below, a half-dozen homework assignments,
and several quizzes or other special asignments. Unless you have
strongly mitigating reason, late work on an assignment (or failure
to show up for an exam, etc.) will result in stiff reductions
in your grade on that item. If you must be late with an assignment
or exam, see me ahead of time and we'll make arrangements.
Howard Wachtel, Labor and the Economy, 3rd Ed.
Lawrence Mishel, Jared Bernstein & John Schmitt, The State
of Working America, 1996-97.
R. Emmett Murray, The Lexicon of Labor.
Dollars & Sense Special Issue "Democratizing Labor"
Other materials may be handed out in class or placed on reserve
at the library.