2020-2021 Academic Catalog 
    Mar 03, 2021  
2020-2021 Academic Catalog

IDCE 387 - Labor, Globalization and Inequality

In the knowledge-based society, the race to achieve higher levels of development and productivity has become one of expanding the human capital base of societies and countries. Thomas Piketty, in his book Capital in the 21st Century, has called this trend the “rising human capital hypothesis”. In the same book, however, he also poses a very provoking question: “Has the apparently growing importance of human capital over the course history been an illusion?” This question is extremely relevant, especially when we hear and see all kinds of practices with which we destroy or waste “human capital”: child labor, racial and gender discrimination, violation of labor laws, exploitation of immigrant workers, lack of social supports, and environmental injustice. Policies to support workers encompass a variety of approaches: employer-based, place-based, and people-based policies, strategies and programs to boost the employability, enhancement of the skill base/education of workers, increase competitiveness, and address multiple kinds of labor market dislocations–enterprise restructuring, deindustrialization, technological modernization, and occupational obsolescence.  This course examines, first, basic theories of the functioning of labor markets (neoclassical, human capital, segmentation/dual labor markets). Secondly, we hone on the structural and institutional forces behind the deterioration of job quality, such as the growth in low-wage employment, globalization (industrial and job off-shoring), unemployment, and labor market deregulation. For a good share of workers in society, such structural and institutional drivers generate inequalities which create and reproduce poverty. Thirdly, this is a “mildly comparative” course with strong material from the US, and lesser from Western Europe, Asia and the Global South. The general focus is on workforce development and human capital formation policies, such as adult education, employability programs, work-first, sectorial/industrial cluster-based, career-ladders, training and vocational education. We consider the role of various actors (government, community colleges, labor market intermediaries, unions, networks) in the formation and implementation of such policies/programs, and which evaluate the performance of programs. Fourthly, we examine the specificity of programs to support different types workers (youth, women, immigrants, low-wage workers, incumbent workers) to overcome various kinds of labor market disadvantage and inequality. Finally, the course explores the connection between workforce development policies and community/regional economic development, especially in small and midsize cities and their regional context: industrial cluster development, the emerging green economy, and the new agriculture.


Education and Development- Youth Development- Urban Regeneration:Economic and Workforce Development

Anticipated Terms Offered: varies