labor economics

labor economics


Paper instructions:

In this term paper you will explore an issue in labor economics, relying on published academic research, published data and the economic models we have developed in class to inform your analysis, as well as other sources of your choosing.
There is a very broad range of potential topics for this paper. The most important criteria for a topic is that it be of interest to you: something that sparks your curiosity, something related to a personal or professional area of interest, or something you would enjoy learning more about.
That being said, any topic in the Borjas book is acceptable. There are many sidebar issues that are highlighted, and very complete references and footnotes which would make an easy starting point for a paper. You could find a topic in current events, or examine the labor markets in a specific geographic region. See the list at the end of this handout for examples.
Submission Guidelines
Your paper should be 10 to 12 pages in length, excluding exhibits, although if you come up short by a page I would prefer you NOT try to stretch it, so I will not automatically deduct points if your paper is only 9 pages.
Your paper should include:
1. An “abstract”: A one paragraph summary of your topic and conclusions or key findings
2. Introduction and concise explanation of the topic. This must include some insight on why this topic is important, or who it is important to.
3. Main body of the paper: depending on the type of topic you have chosen, this would include different things such as
a. An explanation of the different constituencies affected by a policy or labor economics issue
b. Discussion of the labor theory that applies to this topic (i.e. discrimination models, efficiency wage model, labor/leisure model, etc.)
c. Discussion of published papers in economics that have examined this topic
d. Discussion of specific data used to reach conclusions in these published papers, and how this data might compare to the population you are interested in.
e. Use of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US Census Bureau, the European Union,or any other original data source
f. A historical examination of similar issues in the present or past (for example, if your topic is the Post-Katrina labor market in New Orleans, look at other cities or regions hit by severe natural disasters)
g. Your conclusions based on your research
4. The Conclusion or Summary
5. Reference List (You must use a minimum of six different sources for your paper, and three of these must be from academic journals. None of these can be web-only references. Use of original data counts as a source.)
6. Your work must be properly documented in the APA system of documentation. Guidelines for this documentation style can be found in Diana Hacker’s A Writer’s Reference; online at, and at the Babson Writing Center (Babson Hall 205) and Speech Resource Center (Horn 209).
7. Exhibits – feel free to embed the exhibits in the document or put them after the references.
8. Honor Code Statement – And please remember that as easy as the internet makes it to plagiarize, it also makes it very easy to catch plagiarism. There is a link to the Babson Academic Integrity Policy in the Term Paper Folder on Blackboard.

Additional Instructions
Use a 12-point font with a 1-inch margin all around. Double space lines and number all pages. All exhibits should be clearly referenced in the text, properly sequenced, and must support your analysis. Edit your document for grammar and readability.
You will be using “Turnitin” for online submission through Blackboard, and instructions on doing that will be available on our class Blackboard site.
• Journal Articles found through EbscoHost or JStor or any other service Horn Library has access to. Examples of such journals are:
o Journal of Labor Economics
o Journal of Political Economy
o Quarterly Journal of Economics
o Journal of Economic Literature
o Journal of Economic Perspectives
o American Economic Review
o Journal of International Economics
o Demography
o Economic Journal
o Review of Economics and Statistics
o Industrial and Labor Relations Review
• Books written by economists, sociologists, industrial relations experts
• Publications by the World Bank, The IMF, IZA or the United Nations
• Periodicals such as : (*note that these do not count as academic sources.)
o The Economist
o The Financial Times
o The Wall Street Journal
o The New York Times
o Other major city or national publications

Your choice of topic may certainly lead you to other sources.
Term Paper Proposal
Provide a one-page overview of your paper idea, and include a preliminary bibliography of six sources. (Go to JStor or Ebsco host on the library portal and search your topic. You should be able to come up with at least 6 relevant academic journal articles.) I will email you with comments before spring break.

Due: The Week of March 24, in-class or emailed to me.

Examples of Topics
I would define topics broadly into four types:
1. A policy issue: a policy that the state or federal government has implemented or is considering implementing. Examples:
• Immigration Reform in the US
• The Family Medical Leave Act
• The Americans with Disabilities Act
• The Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act (Obamacare)
• The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
• Head Start programs, and the effect of budget cuts on these programs
• Minimum wage policies
• Affirmative Action policies in higher education
• The (stalled) Employee Free Choice Act – which would make implementing collective bargaining easier for unions
• Environmental regulations: Potential labor market effects in industries that endorse environmental regulation and/or industries that are against such regulation.
• (These are all US examples, but feel free to choose an example from another country.)
2. A topic in labor economics that you explore more in-depth. Examples:
• Discrimination: address discrimination of a very specific type
• Human Capital: consider the long-term effects of the recession on lifetime wages for students who had to leave college due to parental job loss
• Human Capital: How do youth sports contribute to the development of human capital and later life earnings potential.
• Immigration: Consider Haiti today – what potential does the Temporary Protected Status for Haitian Workers in the US have for an increase in remittances to Haiti. Look at other groups that have received TPS.
• Wage Structure: Compare two industries that show an inclination to using “tournament” style wage structures. How are they alike or different? Why would they use tournament wages and what are the down sides to this?
3. An industry or company-specific topic. Examples
• Unions in the healthcare industry
• The NFL players union and concern about head injuries.
• How healthcare reform might improve the competitiveness of the US Auto Industry
• Technology specific human capital and labor demand in high-tech companies
• Increasing use of robotics in retail delivery fulfillment
• Wal-Mart’s labor practices
4. A geography-specific topic. Examples
• The decline of Detroit – what potential is there for Detroit’s labor market to recover
• The Greek economy – the productivity of the private sector in the face of the public debt crisis.
• Bangalore – population trends, employment trends, comparison with regions that have not seen such growth in the service sector
• California – how the fiscal crisis in the state affects education, infrastructure, unemployment levels, etc.
• Haiti – why are Haitian workers post-earthquake treated differently by the US than central American workers post other natural disasters (these immigrant workers received temporary worker status and Haitians have not)



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