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

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  • Redding, Stephen
  • Michaels, Guy
  • Rauch, Ferdinand

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Redding, Stephen & Michaels, Guy & Rauch, Ferdinand, 2013. "Task Specialization in U.S. Cities from 1880-2000," CEPR Discussion Papers 9308, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9308
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economic development; Human interaction; Urbanization;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N92 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)

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