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Task Specialization in U.S. Cities from 1880-2000

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  • Guy Michaels
  • Ferdinand Rauch
  • Stephen J. Redding

Abstract

We develop a new methodology for quantifying the tasks undertaken within occupations using 3,000 verbs from around 12,000 occupational descriptions in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOTs). Using micro-data from the United States from 1880-2000, we find an increase in the employment share of interactive occupations within sectors over time that is larger in metro areas than non-metro areas. We provide evidence that this increase in the interactiveness of employment is related to the dissemination of improvements in transport and communication technologies. Our findings highlight a change in the nature of agglomeration over time towards an increased emphasis on human interaction.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp1186.

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Date of creation: Feb 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1186

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Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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Keywords: Economic development; human interaction; urbanization;

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  1. Ngai, L. Rachel & Pissarides, Christopher A., 2005. "Structural Change in a Multi-Sector Model of Growth," IZA Discussion Papers 1800, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Gaspar, Jess & Glaeser, Edward L., 1998. "Information Technology and the Future of Cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 136-156, January.
  3. Guy Michaels, 2007. "The effect of trade on the demand for skill - evidence from the interstate highway system," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3268, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Rowena Gray, 2011. "Taking Technology to Task: The Skill Content of Technological Change in Early Twentieth Century United States," Working Papers 0009, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
  5. Gilles Duranton & Diego Puga, 2000. "Nursery cities: urban diversity, process innovation and the life-cycle of products," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20204, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  6. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2001. "The Skill Content of Recent Technological Change: An Empirical Exploration," NBER Working Papers 8337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Nathaniel Baum-Snow, 2007. "Did Highways Cause Suburbanization?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(2), pages 775-805, 05.
  8. Jeffrey Lin, 2009. "Technological adaptation, cities and new work," Working Papers 09-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  9. David H. Autor & Michael J. Handel, 2013. "Putting Tasks to the Test: Human Capital, Job Tasks, and Wages," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(S1), pages S59 - S96.
  10. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 1999. "Power Couples: Changes in the Locational Choice of the College Educated, 1940-1990," NBER Working Papers 7109, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Vernon Henderson, 2001. "Marshall's Scale Economies," Working Papers 01-17, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  12. Duranton, Gilles & Jayet, Hubert, 2005. "Is the Division of Labour Limited By the Extent of the Market? Evidence from French Cities," CEPR Discussion Papers 5087, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Guy Michaels & Ferdinand Rauch & Stephen Redding, 2008. "Urbanisation and structural transformation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 25495, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  14. Gilles Duranton & Diego Puga, 2001. "From Sectoral To Functional Urban Specialisation," CEP Discussion Papers dp0511, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  15. Morris A. Davis & François Ortalo-Magné, 2007. "Household Expenditures, Wages, Rents," CESifo Working Paper Series 2156, CESifo Group Munich.
  16. Helsley, Robert W. & Strange, William C., 2007. "Agglomeration, opportunism, and the organization of production," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 55-75, July.
  17. Henderson, J V, 1974. "The Sizes and Types of Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(4), pages 640-56, September.
  18. Sascha O. Becker & Karolina Ekholm & Marc-Andreas Muendler, 2009. "Offshoring and the Onshore Composition of Tasks and Skills," IAW Discussion Papers 55, Institut für Angewandte Wirtschaftsforschung (IAW).
  19. Ota, Mitsuru & Fujita, Masahisa, 1993. "Communication technologies and spatial organization of multi-unit firms in metropolitan areas," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 695-729, December.
  20. Gene M. Grossman & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2008. "Trading Tasks: A Simple Theory of Offshoring," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1978-97, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Gray, Rowena, 2013. "Taking technology to task: The skill content of technological change in early twentieth century United States," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 351-367.
  2. Suzanne Kok & Bas ter Weel, 2014. "Cities, Tasks and Skills," CPB Discussion Paper 269, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
  3. Kok, Suzanne & ter Weel, Bas, 2014. "Cities, Tasks and Skills," IZA Discussion Papers 8053, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Kohei Nagamachi, 2013. "Task Trade and the Size Distribution of Cities," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-886, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.

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