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Lousy and Lovely Jobs: The Rising Polarization of Work in Britain

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Author Info

  • Maarten Goos

    (Department of Economics, Catholic University Leuven and Erasmus University)

  • Alan Manning

    (Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics)

Abstract

This paper shows that the United Kingdom since 1975 has exhibited a pattern of job polarization with rises in employment shares in the highest- and lowest-wage occupations. This is not entirely consistent with the idea of skill-biased technical change as a hypothesis about the impact of technology on the labor market. We argue that the "routinization" hypothesis recently proposed by Autor, Levy, and Murnane (2003) is a better explanation of job polarization, though other factors may also be important. We show that job polarization can explain one-third of the rise in the log(50/10) wage differential and one-half of the rise in the log(90/50). Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 89 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 118-133

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:89:y:2007:i:1:p:118-133

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  1. David Autor & Frank Levy & Richard Murnane, 2003. "The skill content of recent technological change: an empirical exploration," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
  2. Acemoglu, Daron, 2001. "Good Jobs versus Bad Jobs," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 1-21, January.
  3. F Green & Steven McIntosh & Anna Vignoles, 1999. "Overeducation and Skills - Clarifying the Concepts," CEP Discussion Papers dp0435, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-81, September.
  5. Timothy Dunne & Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & Kenneth Troske, 2000. "Wage and Productivity Dispersion in U.S. Manufacturing: The Role of Computer Investment," Working Papers 00-01, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  6. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  7. Henry S. Farber, 1997. "Job Creation in the United States: Good Jobs or Bad?," Working Papers 764, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  8. Eli Berman & John Bound & Stephen Machin, 1997. "Implications of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 78, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  9. Daron Acemoglu, 1998. "Changes in Unemployment and Wage Inequality: An Alternative Theory and Some Evidence," NBER Working Papers 6658, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Sicherman, Nachum, 1991. ""Overeducation" in the Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(2), pages 101-22, April.
  11. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 1993. "Wage Dispersion, Returns to Skill, and Black-White Wage Differentials," NBER Working Papers 4365, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. Arnaud Chevalier, 2000. "Graduate over-education in the UK," CEE Discussion Papers 0007, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  14. Teulings, Coen N, 2000. "Aggregation Bias in Elasticities of Substitution and the Minimum Wage Paradox," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 41(2), pages 359-98, May.
  15. Machin, S. & Van Reenen, J., 1997. "Technology and Changes in Skill Structure: Evidence from Seven OECD Countries," Papers 24, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  16. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  17. Chinhui Juhn, 1994. "Wage Inequality and Industrial Change: Evidence from Five Decades," NBER Working Papers 4684, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Thomas Lemieux, 2002. "Decomposing changes in wage distributions: a unified approach," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(4), pages 646-688, November.
  19. repec:fth:prinin:385 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Hellerstein, Judith K & Neumark, David & Troske, Kenneth R, 1999. "Wages, Productivity, and Worker Characteristics: Evidence from Plant-Level Production Functions and Wage Equations," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(3), pages 409-46, July.
  21. Francis Green & Steven McIntosh, 2007. "Is there a genuine under-utilization of skills amongst the over-qualified?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(4), pages 427-439.
  22. Stephen Machin, 1995. "Changes in the Relative Demand for Skills in the UK Labour Market," CEP Discussion Papers dp0221, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  23. Chinhui Juhn, 1999. "Wage inequality and demand for skill: Evidence from five decades," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(3), pages 424-443, April.
  24. Baumol, William J, 1972. "Macroeconomics of Unbalanced Growth: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(1), pages 150, March.
  25. Spitz, Alexandra, 2003. "IT Capital, Job Content and Educational Attainment," ZEW Discussion Papers 03-04, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  26. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2002. "Skill Biased Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality: Some Problems and Puzzles," NBER Working Papers 8769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1993. "Occupational Change and the Demand for Skill, 1940-1990," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 122-36, May.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Profesiones con o sin empleo: la polarización ocupacional
    by Florentino Felgueroso in Nada Es Gratis on 2011-05-08 13:22:40
  2. Immigration and employment: two sides of the same coin
    by Bridget Anderson, Professor of Migration and Citizenship at University of Oxford in The Conversation on 2013-08-15 05:40:24
  3. Rather than protecting the UK labour market, the clampdown on immigration may be compelling citizens to take on lower quality work
    by Blog Admin in British Politics and Policy at LSE on 2013-08-22 07:00:46
  4. Machines on the march threaten almost half of modern jobs
    by Carl Frey, James Martin Research Fellow at University of Oxford in The Conversation on 2013-09-23 05:38:39
  5. Improving technology now means that nearly 50 percent of occupations in the US are under threat of computerisation
    by Blog Admin in British Politics and Policy at LSE on 2013-10-05 17:00:06
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