EC3311 Labour Economics

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Essay topics

As part of the formative assessment for this course you are required to write an essay of approximately 2000 words. These are not a research essays, but you may need to do more reading than simply those assigned below. As the topics have generated much controversy, it is important that you demonstrate an understanding of the methodologies used by labour economists, and not just provide an ‘answer’. The details of the assignment are outlined below.

Deadlines: The deadlines for these assignments are noted in the Student Handbook All essays must be submitted at the department office. Failure to submit 3 of the four pieces of assessed work can result in your being barred from the course exam in May. Applications for extensions can only be made to the academic coordinator, Nalini Vittal.
Presentation: Essays should be approximately 1500 words and no more than 2000 words. Students are encouraged to provide up to five graphs, tables, etc. No handwritten essays will be accepted. Please staple the essay rather than using a plastic cover (this is easier for me and is cheaper and more environmentally friendly).
Marking criteria: The Department Standardised Feedback Form lists the following criteria: knowledge of factual material, quality of application of concepts, mastery of mathematical methods, clarity of explanation, presentation, evidence of wider reading and research. In most cases mastery of mathematical methods will not be applicable to this essay. The other criteria are applicable, although clearly knowledge of factual material will obviously be more heavily weighted than presentation.

Autumn Essay topic:

What are the two main empirical approaches that labour economists use to evaluate the employment effect of minimum wage laws? What have they concluded about the employment effects of the minimum wage using these approaches? What are the advantages and disadvantages of these approaches?
Suggested Readings:
Charles Brown, “Minimum Wage Laws: Are They Overrated?”, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2 (1988): 133-47.
Charles Brown, Curtis Gilroy, and Andrew Kohen, "The Effect of the Minimum Wage on Employment and Unemployment", Journal of Economic Literature 20 (June 1982): 487-528.
David Card and Alan Krueger, “Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania,” American Economics Review, 84, 1994, pp. 772-93.
David Neumark and William Wascher, " Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania: Comment." American Economics Review, 90 (December 2000), pp. 1362-97.
David Card and Alan Krueger, “Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania: Reply” American Economics Review, 90 (December 2000), pp.1397-1420.

Spring Essay topic:

"The New Deal has helped more than 440,000 long-term jobseekers move into work and has led to the virtual elimination of long-term youth unemployment. But again, this success is underpinned by maintaining regular contact with the jobs market and continual job-search, particularly during the Gateway stage, which evaluation evidence suggests is one of the most effective elements of the New Deal.'' UK Employment Action Plan 2002, European Commission, Employment and Social Affairs.

Discuss the effects of the New Deal for Young People.


· How can it be quantified?

· What features of its design can be expected to have contributed to its success?

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