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Multitasking and Wages


  • Görlich, Dennis
  • Snower, Dennis J.


This paper sheds light on how changes in the organization of work can help to understand increasing wage inequality. We present a theoretical model in which workers with a wider span of competence (higher level of multitasking) earn a wage premium. Since abilities and opportunities to expand the span of competence are distributed unequally among workers across and within education groups, our theory helps to explain (1) rising wage inequality between groups, and (2) rising wage inequality within groups. Under certain assumptions, it also helps to explain (3) the polarization of the income distribution. Using a rich German data set covering a 20-year period from 1986 to 2006, we provide empirical support for our model.

Suggested Citation

  • Görlich, Dennis & Snower, Dennis J., 2013. "Multitasking and Wages," CEPR Discussion Papers 9455, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9455

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Elsayed, A.E.A. & de Grip, A. & Fouarge, D., 2014. "Job tasks, computer use, and the decreasing part-time pay penalty for women in the UK," ROA Research Memorandum 003, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).

    More about this item


    multitasking; organizational change; tasks; wage inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production

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