The Economics of Human Capital and Compensation - Labor Economics

This course will be closed on Oct. 29th, with a waitlist activated. Students who add themselves to the waitlist and who have not previously received credit for PA 393L will be added to the course at 8:00 am on Oct. 30th, after which time the course will be open to all students. If all seats are filled before we open the course, the waitlist will be opened as well.

How does attending college affect income? What might explain the gender pay gap? Do higher salaries in the public sector reduce corruption? What effect do immigrants have on native wages? In this course, we will use the tools from labor economics to discuss policy-relevant questions concerning human capital and wage determination. We will rely on analytical frameworks grounded in economic theory and rigorous empirical evidence to answer these questions.

The course will be divided into three blocks. First, we will focus on human capital and schooling. We will study the decision to invest in education and training, the returns to those investments and the impacts of different education policies around the world. The second block will concentrate on issues around compensation, incentives, and wage setting. For example, we will discuss racial and gender wage gaps and the economics of human resource management. The third block will focus on selected policy-relevant questions looking at labor markets as a whole. This might include topics such as the effects of minimum wages and immigration.


This is an economics course. Much of our discussion will rely on correctly interpreting the empirical literature. Students should have already completed a microeconomics course and should have a solid understanding of regression analysis before starting the course. They are also strongly encouraged to have completed an evaluation methods course. We will discuss empirical methods during class, but these are meant to be brief overviews.


The course grade will be assigned based on the following components: short reading responses, an in-class presentation, and a final exam. Students will be expected to read 3-4 academic papers per week.