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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. Morris M. Kleiner & Alan B. Krueger, 2010. "The Prevalence and Effects of Occupational Licensing," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 48(4), pages 676-687, December.
  2. Weiss, Matthias, 2008. "Skill-biased technological change: Is there hope for the unskilled?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 100(3), pages 439-441, September.
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  4. Marianne Bertrand & Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2009. "Dynamics of the Gender Gap for Young Professionals in the Corporate and Financial Sectors," NBER Working Papers 14681, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning, 2007. "Lousy and Lovely Jobs: The Rising Polarization of Work in Britain," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 118-133, February.
  6. Morris M. Kleiner & Alan B. Krueger, 2008. "The Prevalence and Effects of Occupational Licensing," Working Papers 1069, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  7. Alan Manning, 2004. "We Can Work It Out: the Impact of Technological Change on the Demand for Low Skill Workers," CEP Discussion Papers dp0640, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  8. Alexandra Spitz-Oener, 2006. "Technical Change, Job Tasks, and Rising Educational Demands: Looking outside the Wage Structure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 235-270, April.
  9. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Alan Manning, 2004. "We Can Work It Out: The Impact of Technological Change on the Demand for Low-Skill Workers," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 51(5), pages 581-608, November.
  11. Ann Bartel & Casey Ichniowski & Kathryn Shaw, 2007. "How Does Information Technology Affect Productivity? Plant-Level Comparisons of Product Innovation, Process Improvement, and Worker Skills," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1721-1758.
  12. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1, October.
  13. repec:pri:cepsud:174krueger is not listed on IDEAS
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