Labour economics is extremely relatable to most people since it touches on some aspect of their own life experiences – even for those who have never formally been in the labour market. For similar reasons, almost any social or economic policy will have either a direct or indirect effect on workers, potential workers, employers, or all of the above. Hence, those involved in policy should understand how labour markets function, including those factors that influence decision-making by individuals or organisations. Without this understanding, it may be difficult for policy makers to fully assess the ramifications that their policies are likely to have on the economy or on society. Hence, the main objective of this course is to provide participants with a basic understanding of the theory underlying labour economics as well as an understanding of how this theory has been applied, and can continue to be applied, to public policy. This course provides an introduction to labour economics and will help participants understand the following:
• how labour markets function, how labour economics fits into the larger economics framework, and the important role these markets play in people’s lives;
• how labour economics fits into policy making, how it can shape policy, and the latest policy debates pertaining to labour economics;
• how different policies may affect individuals’ decision making and choices; and
• labour economics in the New Zealand context, including key data sets available for analysis and previous research done using these data.
Topics to be covered include, but are not limited to, supply and demand, minimum wages, labour market effects of taxes and subsidies, unemployment, the collective bargaining relationship, discrimination, inequality, human capital, automation, and the ‘gig’ economy.