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

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

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

  • Michaels, Guy & Rauch, Ferdinand & Redding, Stephen J., 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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    2. Marcus Berliant & Tomoya Mori, 2017. "Beyond urban form: How Masahisa Fujita shapes us," International Journal of Economic Theory, The International Society for Economic Theory, vol. 13(1), pages 5-28, March.
    3. Anette Haas & Malte Reichelt, 2014. "Would you commute further for extra money? Region specific income effects on commuting distances," ERSA conference papers ersa14p1320, European Regional Science Association.
    4. Ron Martin & Peter Sunley & Peter Tyler & Ben Gardiner, 2016. "Editor's choice Divergent cities in post-industrial Britain," Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, Cambridge Political Economy Society, vol. 9(2), pages 269-299.
    5. Suzanne Kok & Bas ter Weel, 2014. "Cities, Tasks, And Skills," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(5), pages 856-892, November.
    6. Dauth, Wolfgang, 2014. "Job polarization on local labor markets," IAB Discussion Paper 201418, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    7. Shiwei Hu & Steven Brakman & Charles van Marrewijk, 2014. "Smart Cities are Big Cities - Comparative Advantage in Chinese Cities," CESifo Working Paper Series 5028, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Brinkman, Jeffrey, 2014. "The supply and demand of skilled workers in cities and the role of industry composition," Working Papers 14-32, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    9. 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.
    10. Berger, Thor & Frey, Carl Benedikt, 2016. "Did the Computer Revolution shift the fortunes of U.S. cities? Technology shocks and the geography of new jobs," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 38-45.
    11. Laird, James J. & Venables, Anthony J., 2017. "Transport investment and economic performance: A framework for project appraisal," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 1-11.
    12. Nagamachi, Kohei, 2015. "Team Production and the Allocation of Creativity across Global and Local Sectors," MPRA Paper 63422, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Kohei Nagamachi, 2013. "Task Trade and the Size Distribution of Cities," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-886, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
    14. Frey, Carl Benedikt & Osborne, Michael A., 2017. "The future of employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation?," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 254-280.
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    17. Nagamachi, Kohei, 2015. "A Simple Model of Functional Specialization of Cities," MPRA Paper 61497, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Davide Consoli & Mabel Sánchez-Barrioluengo, 2016. "Polarization and the growth of low-skill employment in Spanish Local Labor Markets," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1628, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Nov 2016.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    economic development; human interaction; urbanization;

    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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