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

Listed author(s):
  • 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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File URL: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp1186.pdf
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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
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. Rowena Gray, 2011. "Taking Technology to Task: The Skill Content of Technological Change in Early Twentieth Century United States," Working Papers 0009, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
  2. Duranton, Gilles & Jayet, Hubert, 2005. "Is the Division of Labour Limited By the Extent of the Market? Evidence from French Cities," CEPR Discussion Papers 5087, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  7. Becker, Sascha O. & Ekholm, Karolina & Muendler, Marc-Andreas, 2013. "Offshoring and the onshore composition of tasks and skills," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1), pages 91-106.
  8. 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.
  9. Guy Michaels, 2006. "The effect of trade on the demand for skill - evidence from the interstate highway system," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19767, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  10. L. Rachel Ngai & Christopher Pissarides, 2004. "Structural change in a multi-sector model of growth," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3550, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  11. Michaels, Guy & Rauch, Ferdinand & Redding, Stephen J., 2008. "Urbanization and Structural Transformation," CEPR Discussion Papers 7016, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Jeffrey Lin, 2011. "Technological Adaptation, Cities, and New Work," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 554-574, May.
  13. Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Pierre-Daniel Sarte & Raymond Owens, 2005. "Firm Fragmentation and Urban Patterns," Discussion Papers 04-019, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
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  15. Gilles Duranton & Diego Puga, 2001. "From sectoral to functional urban specialisation," Working Papers dpuga-01-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  16. Jess Gaspar & Edward L. Glaeser, 1996. "Information Technology and the Future of Cities," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1756, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  17. 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.
  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. Henderson, J V, 1974. "The Sizes and Types of Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(4), pages 640-656, September.
  21. Henderson, J. Vernon, 2003. "Marshall's scale economies," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 1-28, January.
  22. 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.
  23. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1982. "Decreasing Costs in International Trade and Frank Graham's Argument for Protection," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1243-1268, September.
  24. Nathaniel Baum-Snow, 2007. "Did Highways Cause Suburbanization?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(2), pages 775-805.
  25. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro & Michael Sinkinson, 2012. "Competition and Ideological Diversity: Historical Evidence from US Newspapers," NBER Working Papers 18234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. 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.
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