GRA 6650 Labor Markets and Personnel Economics

GRA 6650 Labor Markets and Personnel Economics

Course code: 
GRA 6650
Course coordinator: 
Ingrid Huitfeldt
Course name in Norwegian: 
Labor Markets and Personnel Economics
Product category: 
MSc in Applied Economics
2024 Autumn
Active status: 
Re-sit exam
Level of study: 
Resit exam semesters: 
2024 Autumn
Teaching language: 
Course type: 
One semester


The labor market is probably the most important market in the economy, and a thorough understanding of how it works is important for an applied economist. This course will give students the knowledge and skills necessary to quantitatively analyze labor markets, wage determination, and human resource management. It will introduce students to recent trends in labor markets related to technological innovation (digitalization and automation) and globalization and the distributional and ethical challenges arising from those. It will cover topics related to personnel economics (recruiting and motivating workers and managers), discrimination, and theories of unemployment. It will cover examples of empirical data analysis associated with measuring wage discrimination. 

Learning outcomes - Knowledge

The course will provide students with comprehensive understanding of the labor market, wage determination, labor market incentives, and labor market policies. More specifically, students will gain knowledge about:

  • Labor supply, schooling decisions, and equilibrium wage determination;
  • Theories of labor market discrimination;
  • Personnel economics, incentives and contracts.
  • Theories of unemployment;
  • Recent trends in wage inequality;
  • Labor market policies and their effects on economic efficiency and equity. 
Learning outcomes - Skills

The course will provide skills necessary for conducting proper quantitative analysis of labor markets: These include:

  • Analytical skills: At the end of the course the students will be able to use economic analysis to study practical problems in wage formation, human resource management and labor market incentives, discrimination, and unemployment.
  • Data analysis using Stata: At the end of the course the students will know how to use Stata to empirically measure wage discrimination.
  • Presentation skills: The course will improve the presentation skills of the students.
General Competence
  • Students should develop an understanding of the main mechanisms that describe interactions in the labor market.
  • Students should be able to critically assess the underlying assumptions of the methods used.
  • Students should be able to evaluate the ethical challenges associated with labor market policies that have distributional effects.
Course content
  • Wage formation: labor supply, labor demand, and the theory of human capital;
  • Personnel economics and human resource management: incentives and compensation for workers and managers; analyzing the effects of changes in compensation schemes.
  • Discrimination: understanding and measuring discrimination in the labor market;
  • Wage inequality, employment, and the role of technology, computerization, and international trade;
  • Unemployment and public policy;
  • Labor market institutions, sustainability, and the distributional consequences of technology, globalization, and labor market policies.
Teaching and learning activities

A course of 6 ECTS credits corresponds to a workload of 160-180 hours. 

Teaching activities include:

  • formal lectures;
  • practical exercises on the computer;
  • out-of-the-classroom discussions and consultations.
  • exercise sessions.

Learning activities include:

  • preparing with assigned readings and instructional content through other media (e.g. online videos) ahead of classroom sessions;
  • active participation in classroom discussions;
  • work on several voluntary problem sets, including computer exercises;
  • work on and delivery of an in-class presentation;
  • preparing for and taking the final written assessment.

Specific information regarding student assessment beyond the information given in the course description will be provided in class.

Software tools
Additional information

Please note that while attendance is not compulsory in all courses, it is the student’s own responsibility to obtain any information provided in class.


All courses in the Masters programme will assume that students have fulfilled the admission requirements for the programme. In addition, courses in second, third and/or fourth semester can have specific prerequisites and will assume that students have followed normal study progression. For double degree and exchange students, please note that equivalent courses are accepted.



Deviations in teaching and exams may occur if external conditions or unforeseen events call for this.

Required prerequisite knowledge

GRA 6626 and GRA 6039, or equivalent.

Exam category: 
School Exam
Form of assessment: 
Written School Exam - pen and paper
Exam/hand-in semester: 
First Semester
Support materials: 
  • Bilingual dictionary
3 Hour(s)
Written examination under supervision. The written examination will include exercises and discussion questions covering the main topics from the course content.
Exam code: 
GRA 66501
Grading scale: 
Type of Assessment: 
Ordinary examination
Total weight: 
Sum workload: 

A course of 1 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of 26-30 hours. Therefore a course of 6 ECTS credits corresponds to a workload of at least 160 hours.