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Computers are even more important than you thought: An Analysis of the changing skill-intensity of jobs


  • A Felstead
  • D Gallie
  • F Green


We investigate the impact of computer usage at work and other job features on the changing skills required of workers. We compare skills utilisation in Britain at three data points: 1986, 1992 and 1997, using responses to identical questions on comparable surveys. We question the validity of investigating the facts about, and the sources of, rising skills by using just educational attainment or occupational grouping data. We re-examine empirical evidence concerning skills trends, using proxies for the level of skills actually used in jobs. We find that: job skills have increased between 1986 and 1997, faster for women than for men; these skills changes are not captured simply by changes in the occupational class structure; the spread of computer usage is very strongly associated with the process of upskilling throughout the period; expanded use of quality circles is also linked to upskilling; evidence for any direct role of trade in inducing skills increases is weak; using the qualification held or occupation as a skills measure can lead to erroneous conclusions as to the origin of skills changes

Suggested Citation

  • A Felstead & D Gallie & F Green, 2000. "Computers are even more important than you thought: An Analysis of the changing skill-intensity of jobs," CEP Discussion Papers dp0439, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0439

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
    2. Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe, 1995. "The Determinants of Children's Attainments: A Review of Methods and Findings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1829-1878, December.
    3. Feinstein, Leon & Symons, James, 1999. "Attainment in Secondary School," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 300-321, April.
    4. Hausman, Jerry, 2015. "Specification tests in econometrics," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 38(2), pages 112-134.
    5. David Card, 1994. "Earnings, Schooling, and Ability Revisited," Working Papers 710, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    6. Francis Green, 1998. "The Value of Skills," Studies in Economics 9819, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    7. Lorraine Dearden, 1998. "Ability, families, education and earnings in Britain," IFS Working Papers W98/14, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    8. repec:fth:prinin:395 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Goldsmith, Arthur H & Veum, Jonathan R & Darity, William, Jr, 1997. "The Impact of Psychological and Human Capital on Wages," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(4), pages 815-829, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jorge Saba Arbache, 2001. "Trade Liberalisation and Labor Markets in Developing Countries: Theory and Evidence," Studies in Economics 0112, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    2. Falk, Martin & Koebel, Bertrand M., 2004. "The impact of office machinery, and computer capital on the demand for heterogeneous labour," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 99-117, February.
    3. Johanna Melka & Nanno Mulder & Laurence Nayman & Soledad Zignago, 2003. "Skills, Technology and Growth is ICT the Key to Success ? An Analysis of ICT Impact on French Growth," Working Papers 2003-04, CEPII research center.
    4. Peter Skott, 2006. "Wage inequality and overeducation in a model with efficiency wages," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 39(1), pages 94-123, February.
    5. Francis Green, 2000. "Why has Work Effort become more intense? Conjectures and Evidence about Effort-Biased Technical Change and other stories," Studies in Economics 0003, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    6. Skott, Peter & Auerbach, Paul, 2003. "Wage inequality and skill asymmetries," Economics Discussion Papers 2003-7, School of Economics, Kingston University London.
    7. Craig de Laine & Patrick Laplagne & Susan Stone, 2001. "The increasing demand for skilled workers in Australia: the role of technical change," Labor and Demography 0105005, EconWPA.
    8. Melka, Johanna & Nayman, Laurence, 2005. "L’impact des nouvelles technologies de l’information sur la croissance française, 1980-2001," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 81(1), pages 75-110, Mars-Juin.
    9. Paul Auerbach & Peter Skott, "undated". "Skill Asymmetries, Increasing Wage Inequality and Unemployment," Economics Working Papers 2000-18, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.

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    Skills; computer; education; training;


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