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Gordon Hanson

Peter Wertheim Professor in Urban Policy


Labor markets in the US and abroad are undergoing momentous change. Increases in educational attainment race to keep up with the demands of new technology. The highly skilled increasingly concentrate in global superstar cities, while automation and globalization have eliminated middle-skill jobs in many smaller communities. Immigration has become subject to the most severe restrictions in a half a century. Now, the fallout of Covid-19 threatens to create further divides, by disproportionately penalizing lower-skilled, service-sector workers. Into this breach, policy makers have variously proposed raising minimum wages, making college education free, expanding negative income taxes, and tightening the lid on immigration and imports. In this course, we will develop analytical tools to measure labor-market outcomes for different societal groups; trace the evolution of labor-market conditions across regions, skill categories, and racial and ethnic groups; analyze how immigration, technology, trade, and other structural changes have affected wages and employment in different labor-market segments; and consider the potential for alternative policies—including wage and unemployment insurance, minimum wages, business tax incentives, and restrictions on immigration and trade—to help those left behind by economic progress. The course will include exercises in data analysis and data visualization, case studies of policy interventions, and a group project on the economic analysis of labor markets.