Labour markets and social inequality

Work is central for human life: It provides individuals with income and meaning. However, in almost all countries participation in paid labour varies greatly across age groups, education, sex, and ethnicity. In the face of upcoming labor shortages, policy makers and personnel managers are increasingly concerned with integrating women, the elderly, and minorities into the labour market and invest in the human capital of the workforce. Despite such efforts, however, social inequalities on the labour market persist. How can we explain differences in employment, income, or in the likelihood of being promoted across different demographic groups? Why do some countries fare better than others with regard to wage inequality, the representation of women and minorities in top-level jobs, or the prevalence of precarious work? What can governments and organizations do to fight social inequality in the labour market and the workplace? 

This class will provide students with an overview on the dimensions and origins of labour market inequalities and give them an understanding of the policies and organisational initiatives used to reduce them. Students will become familiar with central labour market concepts and different disciplinary views on the organization of work and social inequality. In addition to getting to know the classical readings in economics and sociology, students will learn about cutting-edge research in the field. Organisational and political initiatives to fight inequality will be discussed with practitioners. Previous knowledge of labour market research and the sociology of work is not required but will be very helpful throughout the course. The sessions typically consist of short lectures followed by different types of class activities and discussions with outside speakers.