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Customer-Employee Substitution: Evidence from Gasoline Stations

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  • Emek Basker
  • Lucia Foster
  • Shawn Klimek

Abstract

We document the adoption of self-service pumps in U.S. gasoline stations from 1977 to 1992. Using establishment-level data from the Census of Retail Trade over this period, we show that self-service stations employ approximately one quarter fewer attendants per pump, all else equal. The work done by these attendants has shifted to customers, biasing upwards conventional measures of productivity growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Emek Basker & Lucia Foster & Shawn Klimek, 2015. "Customer-Employee Substitution: Evidence from Gasoline Stations," Working Papers 15-45, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:15-45
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    Cited by:

    1. Susan N. Houseman & Brad J. Hershbein, 2018. "Understanding the Decline of U.S. Manufacturing Employment," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 18-287, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    2. Lucas W. Davis, Shaun Mcrae, and Enrique Seira Bejarano, 2019. "An Economic Perspective on Mexico's Nascent Deregulation of Retail Petroleum Markets," Economics of Energy & Environmental Policy, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2).
    3. Taehwan Kim, 2018. "Price Competition and Market Segmentation in Retail Gasoline: New Evidence from South Korea," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 53(3), pages 507-534, November.
    4. Lordan, Grace & Neumark, David, 2018. "People versus machines: The impact of minimum wages on automatable jobs," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 40-53.
    5. Daniel Aaronson & Brian J Phelan, 2019. "Wage Shocks and the Technological Substitution of Low‐wage Jobs," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 129(617), pages 1-34.
    6. Berger, Thor & Chen, Chinchih & Frey, Carl Benedikt, 2018. "Drivers of disruption? Estimating the Uber effect," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 197-210.
    7. Nikolas Zolas & Zachary Kroff & Erik Brynjolfsson & Kristina McElheran & David Beede & Catherine Buffington & Nathan Goldschlag & Lucia Foster & Emin Dinlersoz, 2020. "Advanced Technologies Adoption and Use by U.S. Firms: Evidence from the Annual Business Survey," Working Papers 20-40, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    8. Baensch Laura & Lanzalot Maria Laura & Stucchi Rodolfo & Lotti Giulia, 2019. "Do Labor Market Regulations Affect the Link between Innovation and Employment? Evidence from Latin America," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 19(3), pages 1-13, July.
    9. Soetevent, Adriaan R. & Bružikas, Tadas, 2018. "The impact of process innovation on prices: Evidence from automated fuel retailing in The Netherlands," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 181-196.
    10. Jeffrey Clemens & Lisa B. Kahn & Jonathan Meer, 2021. "Dropouts Need Not Apply? The Minimum Wage and Skill Upgrading," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(S1), pages 107-149.
    11. Emin Dinlersoz & Zoltan Wolf, 2018. "Automation, Labor Share, and Productivity: Plant-Level Evidence from U.S. Manufacturing," Working Papers 18-39, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    12. Emek Basker & Randy A. Becker & Lucia Foster & T. Kirk White & Alice Zawacki, 2019. "Addressing Data Gaps: Four New Lines of Inquiry in the 2017 Economic Census," Working Papers 19-28, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    13. Koch, Andreas & Kirchmann, Andrea & Reiner, Marcel & Scheu, Tobias & Zühlke, Anne & Bonin, Holger, 2020. "Verhaltensmuster von Betrieben und Beschäftigten im Kontext des gesetzlichen Mindestlohns," IZA Research Reports 97, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Customer-employee substitution; retail; gasoline station; self service; full service; outsourcing;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce

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