LABOR economics encompasses a broad range of subjects, from worker behavior in labor markets and union work rules to theories of wage determination and national issues of unemployment and industry-wide strikes. Although any college textbook must cover the major subdivisions of the field, every textbook writer faces the necessity of critical selection of materials for special emphasis and appraisal. In this book--a text that can be used for either a one- or two-semester course designed for students who have had some previous work in economics--the objective has been to develop in detail the economics of the labor market in order to achieve the proper balance between economic analysis on the one hand and the more frequently found industrial relations material on the other. In my own classes, I have found that this approach attracts students who are interested not only in labor economics as such, but also in its relationship to the more general body of economic analysis.
This approach is also in accord with recent trends in research. The student who is exposed to the flow of new and significant empirical studies and analyses can begin to understand the assumptions upon which divergent theories about and policies in regard to the labor market rest; he can learn that the first step is to find out what questions to ask and how economists go about trying to answer them. In addition, he can gain insight into the nature and limitations of the analytical and statistical tools that economists use.
The organization of this book differs somewhat from the traditional arrangement of materials. The concepts of labor force, labor supply and