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Task Specialization in U.S. Cities from 1880-2000

  • Guy Michaels
  • Ferdinand Rauch
  • Stephen J. Redding

We develop a new methodology for quantifying the tasks undertaken within occupations using 3,000 verbs from around 12,000 occupational descriptions in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOTs). Using micro-data from the United States from 1880-2000, we find an increase in the employment share of interactive occupations within sectors over time that is larger in metro areas than non-metro areas. We provide evidence that this increase in the interactiveness of employment is related to the dissemination of improvements in transport and communication technologies. Our findings highlight a change in the nature of agglomeration over time towards an increased emphasis on human interaction.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp1186.

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Date of creation: Feb 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1186
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  1. Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano & Giovanni Peri & Greg C. Wright, 2010. "Immigration, offshoring and American jobs," Working Paper Research 205, National Bank of Belgium.
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  8. Henderson, J V, 1974. "The Sizes and Types of Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(4), pages 640-56, September.
  9. Gene M. Grossman & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2006. "Trading Tasks: A Simple Theory of Offshoring," NBER Working Papers 12721, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The Skill Content of Recent Technological Change: An Empirical Exploration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1279-1333.
  11. David H. Autor & Michael J. Handel, 2013. "Putting Tasks to the Test: Human Capital, Job Tasks, and Wages," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(S1), pages S59 - S96.
  12. Duranton, Gilles & Jayet, Hubert, 2011. "Is the division of labour limited by the extent of the market? Evidence from French cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 56-71, January.
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  16. Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Pierre-Daniel Sarte & Raymond Owens iii, 2009. "Firm Fragmentation And Urban Patterns," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(1), pages 143-186, 02.
  17. Gaspar, Jess & Glaeser, Edward L., 1998. "Information Technology and the Future of Cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 136-156, January.
  18. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew G. Resseger, 2009. "The Complementarity between Cities and Skills," NBER Working Papers 15103, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2000. "Power Couples: Changes in the Locational Choice of the College Educated, 1940–1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1287-1315.
  20. Guy Michaels & Ferdinand Rauch & Stephen J. Redding, 2012. "Urbanization and Structural Transformation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 535-586.
  21. Vernon Henderson, 2001. "Marshall's Scale Economies," Working Papers 01-17, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  22. Morris A. Davis & Francois Ortalo-Magne, 2011. "Household Expenditures, Wages, Rents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(2), pages 248-261, April.
  23. Helsley, Robert W. & Strange, William C., 2007. "Agglomeration, opportunism, and the organization of production," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 55-75, July.
  24. Ota, Mitsuru & Fujita, Masahisa, 1993. "Communication technologies and spatial organization of multi-unit firms in metropolitan areas," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 695-729, December.
  25. Gray, Rowena, 2013. "Taking technology to task: The skill content of technological change in early twentieth century United States," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 351-367.
  26. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1982. "Decreasing Costs in International Trade and Frank Graham's Argument for Protection," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1243-68, September.
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