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Measuring and interpreting trends in the division of labour in the Netherlands

  • Bas ter Weel

    ()

  • Semih Akcomak

    ()

  • Lex Borghans

This paper introduces indicators about the division of labour to measure and interpret recent trends in employment in the Netherlands. We show that changes in the division of labour occur at three different levels: the level of the individual worker, the level of the industry and the spatial level. At each level, the current organisation of work is determined by an equilibrium of forces that glue tasks together and unbundled tasks. Communication costs are the main force for clustering or gluing together tasks; comparative advantage stimulates unbundling and specialisation. Our results show that on average the Netherlands has witnessed unbundling in the period 1996-2005. So, on average the advantages of specialisation have increased. These developments can explain to a considerable extent changes in the structure of employment. Especially at the spatial level, our approach explains a substantial part of the increase in offshoring during this period.

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Paper provided by CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis in its series CPB Discussion Paper with number 161.

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Date of creation: Nov 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cpb:discus:161
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  1. Borghans, Lex & ter Weel, Bas, 2004. "What happens when agent T gets a computer?: The labor market impact of cost efficient computer adoption," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 137-151, June.
  2. Gene M. Grossman & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2008. "Trading Tasks: A Simple Theory of Offshoring," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1978-97, December.
  3. Firpo, Sergio & Fortin, Nicole M & Lemieux, Thomas, 2012. "Occupational tasks and changes in the wage structure," Textos para discussão 284, Escola de Economia de São Paulo, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
  4. Borghans,Lex & Weel,Bas,ter, 2005. "The Division of Labour, Worker Organisation, and Technological Change," ROA Research Memorandum 005, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
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  13. Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Pol Antras & Luis Garicano, 2005. "Offshoring in a Knowledge Economy," 2005 Meeting Papers 196, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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  16. Lex Borghans & Bas ter Weel & Bruce A. Weinberg, 2006. "People People: Social Capital and the Labor-Market Outcomes of Underrepresented Groups," NBER Working Papers 11985, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Francis Green, 2009. "Employee Involvement, Technology and Job Tasks," Studies in Economics 0903, School of Economics, University of Kent.
  18. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1994. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," NBER Chapters, in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 299-322 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning, 2003. "Lousy and Lovely Jobs: the Rising Polarization of Work in Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0604, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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