Entry Date:
January 15, 2008

Applied Microeconomics: Labor Economics

Principal Investigator Joshua Angrist

Co-investigators K Acemoglu , David Autor , Robert Gibbons , Olivier Blanchard , Jonathan Gruber

Labor economics is the branch of microeconomics that includes the study of wages, employment, and labor market dynamics. There are two undergraduate courses in labor economics: one offers a comparative and historical perspective on the organization of the labor market, while the other is a more analytical course. Graduate students may take a two-semester course on modern empirical and theoretical labor economics.

Several faculty members specialize in labor economics. Daron Acemoglu has worked on a variety of topics that bear on labor markets, including job-training programs, the design of optimal unemployment insurance and the link between technical progress and wages. Joshua Angrist, a world leader in empirical labor economics, has studied the effect of labor market shocks, such as military service, on subsequent labor market outcomes. His current research focuses on the design of education systems and their impact on labor market outcomes. David Autor works on the impact of technological change on the labor market, on the role of the temporary help industry in the U.S., and on the impacts of the growing disability insurance program on labor supply. Robert Gibbons works on control issues in organizations. Michael Piore is an internationally known expert on comparative labor market institutions and their effect on labor market outcomes.

A number of other faculty members are working on topics related to labor economics and regularly interact with the labor group. Olivier Blanchard has examined the role of labor markets in macroeconomic fluctuations. Dora Costa applies her expertise in economic history, labor economics, and demography to the analysis of labor force participation, disability rates, and retirement decisions. Jonathan Gruber has studied the impact of Social Security, disability insurance, health insurance expansions and other government policies on labor market behavior.