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The effects of technology and offshoring on changes in employment and task-content of occupations


  • Semih Akcomak


  • Suzanne Kok


  • Hugo Rojas-Romagosa



Combining employment data with the British Skill Survey (BSS) –which has comparable within-occupation task data for three waves: 1997, 2001 and 2006– we analyse employment changes between occupations (extensive margin) and within occupations (intensive margin). First, we find that the task-content of occupations (i.e. the intensive margin) has experienced significant changes in the United Kingdom between 1997 and 2006. Second, our econometric results suggest that these intensive margin changes can be explained by technological improvements (SBTC) and unionisation levels, while offshoring has not been a factor explaining how tasks are organized within occupations. Analysing changes at the extensive margin we confirm previous findings in the literature: there has been job polarization for both the UK and the Netherlands, and this job polarization can be explained by both SBTC and offshoring, though SBTC seems to be a more influential factor.

Suggested Citation

  • Semih Akcomak & Suzanne Kok & Hugo Rojas-Romagosa, 2013. "The effects of technology and offshoring on changes in employment and task-content of occupations," CPB Discussion Paper 233, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpb:discus:233

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alex Bryson, 2004. "Unions And Employment Growth In British Workplaces During The 1990s: A Panel Analysis," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 51(4), pages 477-506, September.
    2. Nicholas Bloom & Luis Garicano & Raffaella Sadun & John Van Reenen, 2014. "The Distinct Effects of Information Technology and Communication Technology on Firm Organization," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 60(12), pages 2859-2885, December.
    3. Arnaud Costinot & Jonathan Vogel, 2010. "Matching and Inequality in the World Economy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 747-786, August.
    4. Guy Michaels & Ashwini Natraj & John Van Reenen, 2010. "Has ICT Polarized Skill Demand? Evidence from Eleven Countries over 25 years," NBER Working Papers 16138, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Alexandra Spitz-Oener, 2006. "Technical Change, Job Tasks, and Rising Educational Demands: Looking outside the Wage Structure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 235-270, April.
    6. Alan S. Blinder & Alan B. Krueger, 2013. "Alternative Measures of Offshorability: A Survey Approach," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(S1), pages 97-128.
    7. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2008. "Trends in U.S. Wage Inequality: Revising the Revisionists," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 300-323, May.
    8. David H. Autor & David Dorn, 2013. "The Growth of Low-Skill Service Jobs and the Polarization of the US Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(5), pages 1553-1597, August.
    9. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning, 2007. "Lousy and Lovely Jobs: The Rising Polarization of Work in Britain," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 118-133, February.
    10. İ. Akçomak & Lex Borghans & Bas Weel, 2011. "Measuring and Interpreting Trends in the Division of Labour in the Netherlands," De Economist, Springer, vol. 159(4), pages 435-482, December.
    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 59-96.
    12. Firpo, Sergio & Fortin, Nicole M. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2011. "Occupational Tasks and Changes in the Wage Structure," IZA Discussion Papers 5542, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Gene M. Grossman & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2008. "Trading Tasks: A Simple Theory of Offshoring," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1978-1997, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Finn Martensen, 2014. "Routinization and the Decline of the U.S. Minimum Wage," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2014-16, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
    2. Semih Akcomak & H. Burcu Gurcihan, 2013. "Turkiye Isgucu Piyasasinda Mesleklerin Onemi : Hizmetler Sektoru Istihdami, Isgucu ve Ucret Kutuplasmasi," Working Papers 1321, Research and Monetary Policy Department, Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey.
    3. Salvatori, Andrea, 2015. "The Anatomy of Job Polarisation in the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 9193, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Paul Gaggl & Greg C. Wright, 2017. "A Short-Run View of What Computers Do: Evidence from a UK Tax Incentive," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 262-294, July.
    5. Ipsita Roy & Davide Consoli, 2015. "Employment Polarization in Germany: Role of Technology, Trade and Human Capital," Jena Economic Research Papers 2015-017, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    6. repec:esx:essedp:752 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business

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