Economics of Human Resources

This course develops and applies economic theory to analyze the operation of labor markets. Part of our time will also be devoted to studying labor market policies and human resource management practices. Students are strongly recommended to take the intermediate level Microeconomic Theory before taking this course. As an applied subject, labor economics takes empirical evidence seriously. Students are expected not to be intimidated by numbers. I will also assume that students have some elementary knowledge of the calculus. However familiarity with mathematics and statistics is an advantage but not a prerequisite. There is no substitute for hard work.

The textbook for this course is Ehrenberg and Smith, Modern Labor Economics, 10th ed. We will rely heavily on this text throughout the course. In the second part of this course, when we discuss issues related to personnel management, we will occassionally refer to Edward Lazear, Personnel Economics for Managers. Students who are interested in local labor market issues may read Suen and Chan, Labour Market in a Dynamic Economy. Articles in the reading list are an integral part of this course. Most of these assigned readings are available on-line through JSTOR. Your course assessment is based on the following:

My office is at KKL-1014. Office hours are Thursdays, 4:00-6:00 pm, or by appointment. I can also be reached by e-mail at

Some of the course materials are available in our course web site at Fragments of the lecture notes will be prepared and posted on our site, though I will not put the complete set on-line. Attendance at the lectures is therefore very important. A more long-winded version of this course outline is also available. Browse our course news every once in a while for the latest ground-breaking news that may affect the rest of your life.

Wing Suen
June 2009

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