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Lousy and Lovely Jobs: the Rising Polarization of Work in Britain

  • Maarten Goos
  • Alan Manning

This paper argues that skill-biased technical change has some deficiencies as a hypothesis about the impact of technology on the labor market and that a more nuanced view recently proposed by Autor, Levy and Murnane (2003) is a more accurate description. The difference between the two hypotheses is in the prediction about what is happening to employment in low-wage jobs. This paper presents evidence that employment in the UK is polarizing into lovely and lousy jobs and that a plausible explanation for this is the Autor, Levy and Murnane hypothesis.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0604.

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Date of creation: Dec 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0604
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  1. 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.
  2. Acemoglu, D., 1996. "Changes in Unemployment and Wage Inequality: An Alternative Theory and Some Evidence," Working papers 96-15, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Machin, S. & Van Reenen, J., 1997. "Technology and Changes in Skill Structure: Evidence from Seven OECD Countries," Papers 24, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  4. Francis Green & Steven McIntosh, 2007. "Is there a genuine under-utilization of skills amongst the over-qualified?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(4), pages 427-439.
  5. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  6. Dunne, Timothy & Foster, Lucia & Haltiwanger, John C. & Troske, Kenneth, 2002. "Wage and Productivity Dispersion in U.S. Manufacturing: The Role of Computer Investment," IZA Discussion Papers 563, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Chinhui Juhn, 1994. "Wage Inequality and Industrial Change: Evidence from Five Decades," NBER Working Papers 4684, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 1993. "Wage Dispersion, Returns to Skill, and Black-White Wage Differentials," Working Papers 691, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  9. Hellerstein, Judith K & Neumark, David & Troske, Kenneth R, 1999. "Wages, Productivity, and Worker Characteristics: Evidence from Plant-Level Production Functions and Wage Equations," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(3), pages 409-46, July.
  10. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2002. "Skill-Biased Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality: Some Problems and Puzzles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 733-783, October.
  11. Maury B. Gittleman & David R. Howell, 1995. "Changes in the Structure and Quality of Jobs in the United States: Effects by Race and Gender, 1973–1990," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(3), pages 420-440, April.
  12. Spitz, Alexandra, 2003. "IT Capital, Job Content and Educational Attainment," ZEW Discussion Papers 03-04, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  13. Henry S. Farber, 1997. "Job Creation in the United States: Good Jobs or Bad?," Working Papers 764, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  14. Chinhui Juhn, 1999. "Wage inequality and demand for skill: Evidence from five decades," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(3), pages 424-443, April.
  15. repec:oup:qjecon:v:113:y:1998:i:4:p:1245-1279 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. repec:oup:qjecon:v:109:y:1994:i:2:p:367-97 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-81, September.
  18. repec:oup:qjecon:v:113:y:1998:i:4:p:1215-1244 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Machin, Steve, 1994. "Changes in the Relative Demand for Skills in the UK Labour Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 952, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. Nachum Sicherman, 1987. "Over-Education in the Labor Market," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 48, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  21. Chinhui Juhn, 1999. "Wage Inequality and Demand for Skill: Evidence from Five Decades," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(3), pages 424-443, April.
  22. repec:oup:qjecon:v:118:y:2003:i:4:p:1279-1333 is not listed on IDEAS
  23. F Green & Steven McIntosh & Anna Vignoles, 1999. "Overeducation and Skills - Clarifying the Concepts," CEP Discussion Papers dp0435, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  24. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1993. "Occupational Change and the Demand for Skill, 1940-1990," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 122-36, May.
  25. Arnaud Chevalier, 2000. "Graduate over-education in the UK," CEE Discussion Papers 0007, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  26. Baumol, William J, 1972. "Macroeconomics of Unbalanced Growth: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(1), pages 150, March.
  27. repec:oup:qjecon:v:114:y:1999:i:3:p:977-1023 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. Acemoglu, Daron, 2001. "Good Jobs versus Bad Jobs," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 1-21, January.
  29. Teulings, Coen N, 2000. "Aggregation Bias in Elasticities of Substitution and the Minimum Wage Paradox," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 41(2), pages 359-98, May.
  30. Thomas Lemieux, 2002. "Decomposing changes in wage distributions: a unified approach," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(4), pages 646-688, November.
  31. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
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