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Computers and the changing skill-intensity of jobs

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  • Francis Green
  • Alan Felstead
  • Duncan Gallie

Abstract

This paper investigates the impact of computer usage at work and other job features on the changing skills required of workers. It compare skills utilization in Britain at three data points: 1986, 1992 and 1997, using proxies for the level of skills actually used in jobs. This study questions the validity of investigating the facts about, and the sources of, rising skills by using just educational attainment or occupational grouping data. This paper finds that: • Job skills have increased, more quickly for women than for men; these increases are more extensive than those captured by changes in the occupational class structure. • The spread of computer usage is very strongly associated with the process of upskilling, and accounts in part for narrowing of the gender skills gap; expanded use of quality circles is also linked to upskilling. • Evidence for any direct role of trade in inducing skills increases is weak. • Using the qualification held or occupation as a skills measure can lead to erroneous conclusions as to the origin of skills changes.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 35 (2003)
Issue (Month): 14 ()
Pages: 1561-1576

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Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:35:y:2003:i:14:p:1561-1576

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Web page: http://www.tandfonline.com/RAEC20

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References

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  1. Spence, A Michael, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-74, August.
  2. David Autor & Lawrence Katz & Alan Krueger, 1997. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," Working Papers 756, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Timothy F. Bresnahan, 1997. "Computerization and Wage Dispersion: An Analytical Reinterpretation," Working Papers 97031, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  4. Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 1998. "Technology And Changes In Skill Structure: Evidence From Seven Oecd Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1215-1244, November.
  5. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2002. "Information Technology, Workplace Organization, And The Demand For Skilled Labor: Firm-Level Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 339-376, February.
  6. E Leuven & Hessel Oosterbeek & H van Ophern, 1998. "Explaining International Differences in Male Wage Inequality by differences in Demand and Supply of Skill," CEP Discussion Papers dp0392, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 1996. "International Differences in Male Wage Inequality: Institutions versus Market Forces," NBER Working Papers 4678, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Entorf, Horst & Kramarz, Francis, 1997. "Does unmeasured ability explain the higher wages of new technology workers?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1489-1509, August.
  9. Wood, Adrian, 1998. "Globalisation and the Rise in Labour Market Inequalities," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(450), pages 1463-82, September.
  10. Machin, Steve, 1994. "Changes in the Relative Demand for Skills in the UK Labour Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 952, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Francis Green, 1998. "The Value of Skills," Studies in Economics 9819, Department of Economics, University of Kent.
  12. Berman, Eli & Bound, John & Griliches, Zvi, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-97, May.
  13. Bruce Weinberg, 1998. "Computer Use and the Demand for Women Workers," Working Papers 98-06, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
  14. Haskel, Jonathan & Heden, Ylva, 1999. "Computers and the Demand for Skilled Labour: Industry- and Establishment-Level Panel Evidence for the UK," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(454), pages C68-79, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Thomas Brenner & Christian Cordes, 2004. "The autocatalytic character of the growth of production knowledge: What role does human labor play?," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2004-12, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
  2. Roberto Antonietti & Massimo Loi, 2014. "The demand for foreign languages in Italian manufacturing," Working Papers 57, AlmaLaurea Inter-University Consortium.
  3. Francis Green & Donna James, 2001. "Do Male Bosses Underestimate their Female Subordinates' Skills? A Comparison of Employees' and Line Managers' Perceptions of Job Skills," Studies in Economics 0107, Department of Economics, University of Kent.
  4. Daria Ciriaci & Alessandro Muscio, 2011. "University choice, research quality and graduates' employability: Evidence from Italian national survey data," Working Papers 48, AlmaLaurea Inter-University Consortium.
  5. Aleksandra Parteka, 2012. "Skilled-Unskilled Wage Gap Versus Evolving Trade And Labour Market Structures in the EU," Working Papers 1204, Instytut Rozwoju, Institute for Development.

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