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

  • David H. Autor
  • Michael J. Handel

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://dx.doi.org/10.1086/669332
Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/669332
Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

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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
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JOLE/

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  1. Giovanni Peri & Chad Sparber, 2008. "Task Specialisation, Immigration and Wages," Development Working Papers 252, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano.
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