ECO339Y, 2012-2013

This is the public “front end” for the more detailed course website that will eventually be accessible through the University of Toronto Portal (Blackboard).

Contact Information

Professor Frank Reid
Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources
121 St. George Street, #208

Professor Dwayne Benjamin
Department of Economics
150 St. George Street, #168

Course Description

This is a survey course of labour economics. The set of questions addressed by labour economists is wide-ranging, beginning with individual decisions regarding how much to work, and how much education to acquire, to such “big picture” questions as to the determinants of income inequality and unemployment.

Labour economics is an empirical field of study. On the one hand, this means that considerable time is spent examining labour market data for salient patterns, using economic theory to aid in interpretation. On the other hand, data and statistical methods are used to evaluate prominent economic theories of individual behaviour and market performance.

This course provides a balance of theory and evidence concerning important labour market issues. The core theoretical apparatus we will develop, and critically evaluate, is the neoclassical supply and demand model. In this sense, labour economics builds on what you learned in intermediate microeconomics. But departing from intermediate micro theory, you will also develop some of the analytic tools necessary to evaluate empirical evidence. Moreover, learning key “facts” about the labour market is a central objective of the course.


Please note that the course prerequisites are enforced rigorously, and without exception:

  1. Intermediate Microeconomics (ECO200Y1/ ECO204Y1/ ECO206Y1)
  2. Statistics ( ECO220Y1/ ECO227Y1/ (STA247H1, STA248H1)/ (STA250H1, STA255H1)/ (STA257H1, STA261H1)

The course builds especially heavily on intermediate-level microeconomic theory, which you may find worth reviewing before classes begin. In addition, we discuss regression analysis extensively, building on material covered in ECO220Y. While we will review this as the course proceeds, you may also find it worth reviewing before classes begin.

For students who have not taken their courses on the St. George campus, please note that course prerequisites demand full-year versions of micro and statistics. It is also redundant, but we will note that "prerequisite" means that the course must be successfully completed before enrolment is permitted.

Student Evaluation

The grading scheme has not been finalized, but will probably include:

  1. Two mid-term tests in the first semester;
  2. A term paper in the second semester;
  3. Class participation;
  4. A final exam.

There will also be problem sets. The problems sets will not be graded, but will be taken up in tutorials, and serve to prepare students for the graded components of the course.


The class is scheduled Tuesdays 11:00-1:00, and Fridays 10:00-11:00. Students should set aside all of these scheduled hours. Usually, lectures will be held in the T11-1 slot. The F10-11 slot will be used for a variety of purposes, possibly including: tests, tutorials, special presentations, and lectures.


Dwayne Benjamin, Morley Gunderson, Thomas Lemieux, and Craig Riddell: Labour Market Economics, Seventh Edition, 2012, McGraw-Hill Ryerson.

Additional readings will be drawn from other sources (e.g., working papers, journal articles, extracts from previous editions of the textbook), and made available through the course website (Blackboard).


The course syllabus will be available closer to the first day of classes, Tuesday, September 11th.