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Putting Tasks to the Test: Human Capital, Job Tasks, and Wages

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  • David H. Autor
  • Michael J. Handel

Abstract

Using original, representative survey data, we document that analytical, routine, and manual job tasks can be measured with high validity, vary substantially within and between occupations, are significantly related to workers’ characteristics, and are robustly predictive of wage differences between occupations and among workers in the same occupation. We offer a conceptual framework that makes explicit the causal links between human capital endowments, occupational assignment, job tasks, and wages, which motivate a Roy model of the allocation of workers to occupations. We offer two simple tests of the model’s gross predictions for the relationship between tasks and wages, both of which receive qualified empirical support.

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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/10.1086/669332
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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/669332
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Labor Economics.

Volume (Year): 31 (2013)
Issue (Month): S1 ()
Pages: S59 - S96

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:doi:10.1086/669332

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Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JOLE/

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Cited by:
  1. Guy Michaels & Ferdinand Rauch & Stephen J. Redding, 2013. "Task Specialization in U.S. Cities from 1880-2000," NBER Working Papers 18715, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Tobias Brändle & Andreas Koch, 2013. "Outsourcing Potentials and International Tradability of Jobs - Evidence from German Micro-Level Data," IAW Discussion Papers 93, Institut für Angewandte Wirtschaftsforschung (IAW).
  3. Baumgarten, Daniel & Geishecker, Ingo & Görg, Holger, 2010. "Offshoring, Tasks, and the Skill-Wage Pattern," IZA Discussion Papers 4828, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Chris Robinson, 2011. "Occupational Mobility, Occupation Distance and Specific Human Capital," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20115, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
  5. Christian Dustmann & Itzhak Fadlon & Yoram Weiss, 2010. "Return Migration, Human Capital Accumulation and the Brain Drain," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1013, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  6. Bas ter Weel & Lex Borghans & Bruce A. Weinberg, 2013. "People Skills and the Labor-Market Outcomes of Underrepresented Groups," CPB Discussion Paper 253, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
  7. Semih Akcomak & Suzanne Kok & Hugo Rojas-Romagosa, 2013. "The effects of technology and offshoring on changes in employment and task-content of occupations," CPB Discussion Paper 233, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
  8. Carl Sanders, 2012. "Skill Uncertainty, Skill Accumulation, and Occupational Choice," 2012 Meeting Papers 633, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  9. Tobias Stoehr, 2013. "The Returns to Occupational Foreign Language Use: Evidence from Germany," Kiel Working Papers 1880, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

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