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Job Polarization and Task-Biased Technological Change: Sweden, 1975–2005

Author

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  • Adermon, Adrian

    () (Department of Economics)

  • Gustavsson, Magnus

    () (Department of Economics)

Abstract

This paper investigates the connection between the Swedish wage profile of net job creation and Autor, Levy, and Murnane’s (2003) proposed substitutability between routine tasks and technology. We first show that between 1975 and 2005, Sweden exhibited a pattern of job polarization with expansions of the highest and lowest paid jobs compared to middle-wage jobs. We then use cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses of job-specific employment to map out the importance of routine versus nonroutine tasks for these changes. Results are consistent with substitutability between routine tasks and technology as an important explanation for the observed job polarization during the 1990s and 2000s, but not during the 1970s and 1980s. In particular, the overrepresentation of routine tasks in middle-wage jobs can potentially explain 44 percent of the growth of low-wage jobs relative to middle-wage jobs after 1990 but largely lacks explanatory power in earlier years.

Suggested Citation

  • Adermon, Adrian & Gustavsson, Magnus, 2011. "Job Polarization and Task-Biased Technological Change: Sweden, 1975–2005," Working Paper Series 2011:15, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:uunewp:2011_015
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Oskar Nordström Skans & Per-Anders Edin & Bertil Holmlund, 2009. "Wage Dispersion Between and Within Plants: Sweden 1985-2000," NBER Chapters,in: The Structure of Wages: An International Comparison, pages 217-260 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. 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.
    3. Magnus Gustavsson, 2006. "The evolution of the Swedish wage structure: new evidence for 1992-2001," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(5), pages 279-286.
    4. 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.
    5. David Domeij, 2008. "Rising Earnings Inequality in Sweden: The Role of Composition and Prices," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 110(3), pages 609-634, September.
    6. Edin, P.-A. & Fredriksson, P., 2000. "LINDA - Longitudinal INdividual DAta for Sweden," Papers 2000:19, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
    7. Christian Dustmann & Johannes Ludsteck & Uta Schönberg, 2009. "Revisiting the German Wage Structure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 843-881.
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    10. Martin Werding (ed.), 2006. "Structural Unemployment in Western Europe: Reasons and Remedies," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262232464, January.
    11. Atkinson, A B, 2008. "The Changing Distribution of Earnings in OECD Countries," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199532438.
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    Cited by:

    1. Arntz, Melanie & Gregory, Terry & Zierahn, Ulrich, 2016. "ELS issues in robotics and steps to consider them. Part 1: Robotics and employment. Consequences of robotics and technological change for the structure and level of employment," ZEW Expertises, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research, number 146501, May.
    2. Martin Olsson & Joacim Tåg, 2017. "Private Equity, Layoffs, and Job Polarization," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(3), pages 697-754.
    3. Håkanson, Christina & Lindqvist, Erik & Vlachos, Jonas, 2015. "Firms and Skills: The Evolution of Worker Sorting," Working Paper Series 1072, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    4. 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

    Inequality; Job Mobility; Skill Demand; Skill-Biased Technological Change;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • 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
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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