Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

The Division of Labour, Coordination, and the Demand for Information Processing

Contents:

Author Info

  • Michaels, Guy

Abstract

Since Adam Smith's time, the division of labour in production has increased significantly, while information processing has become an important part of work. This paper examines whether the need to coordinate an increasingly complex division of labour has raised the demand for clerical office workers, who process information that is used to coordinate production. In order to examine this question empirically, I introduce a measure of the complexity of an industry's division of labour that uses the Herfindahl index of occupations it employs, excluding clerks and managers. Using US data I find that throughout the 20th century more complex industries employed relatively more clerks, and recent Mexican data shows a similar relationship. The relative complexity of industries is persistent over time and correlated across these two countries. I further document the relationship between complexity and the employment of clerks using an early information technology (IT) revolution that took place around 1900, when telephones, typewriters, and improved filing techniques were introduced. This IT revolution raised the demand for clerks in all manufacturing industries, but significantly more so in industries with a more complex division of labour. Interestingly, recent reductions in the price of IT have enabled firms to substitute computers for clerks, and I find that more complex industries have substituted clerks more rapidly.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.cepr.org/pubs/dps/DP6358.asp
Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at subscribers@cepr.org

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6358.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: Jun 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6358

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Centre for Economic Policy Research, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ.
Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820

Order Information:
Email:

Related research

Keywords: Division of Labour; Information Processing; Organization of Production.; Technological Change;

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Luis Garicano & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2006. "Organization and Inequality in a Knowledge Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1383-1435, November.
  2. Daron Acemoglu, 2001. "Directed Technical Change," NBER Working Papers 8287, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Paul Osterman, 1986. "The impact of computers on the employment of clerks and managers," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 39(2), pages 175-186, January.
  4. Garicano, Luis & Hubbard, Thomas, 2003. "Specialization, Firms and Markets: The division of Labour Between and Within Law Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 3699, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1998. "The Origins Of Technology-Skill Complementarity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 693-732, August.
  6. Jacques Cremer & Luis Garicano & Andrea Prat, 2006. "Language and the Theory of the Firm," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000373, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. William D. Nordhaus, 2001. "The Progress of Computing," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1324, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  8. 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.
  9. Leora Friedberg, 2001. "The Impact of Technological Change on Older Workers: Evidence from Data on Computer Use," NBER Working Papers 8297, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. Goldin, Claudia, 1998. "America's Graduation from High School: The Evolution and Spread of Secondary Schooling in the Twentieth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(02), pages 345-374, June.
  12. Dale W. Jorgenson, 2001. "Information Technology and the U. S. Economy," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1911, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  13. Dale W. Jorgenson, 2001. "Information Technology and the U.S. Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 1-32, March.
  14. Richard K. Fleischman & Thomas N. Tyson, 1993. "Cost accounting during the industrial revolution. the present state of historical knowledge," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 46(3), pages 503-517, 08.
  15. Luis Garicano, 2000. "Hierarchies and the Organization of Knowledge in Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 874-904, October.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Giuseppe Berlingieri, 2013. "Outsourcing and the Rise in Services," CEP Discussion Papers dp1199, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Thomas Philippon & Ariell Reshef, 2009. "Wages and Human Capital in the U.S. Financial Industry: 1909-2006," NBER Working Papers 14644, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Ariell Reshef, 2008. "Is Technological Change Biased Towards the Unskilled in Services? An Empirical Investigation," 2008 Meeting Papers 235, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Poschke, Markus, 2014. "The Firm Size Distribution across Countries and Skill-Biased Change in Entrepreneurial Technology," IZA Discussion Papers 7991, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Ariell Reshef, 2012. "Online Appendix to "Is Technological Change Biased Towards the Unskilled in Services? An Empirical Investigation"," Technical Appendices 11-241, Review of Economic Dynamics.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6358. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.