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Multitasking and Wages

  • Snower, Dennis J.

    ()

    (Kiel Institute for the World Economy)

  • Goerlich, Dennis

    ()

    (Kiel Institute for the World Economy)

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.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7426.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: May 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7426
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  1. Wouter Dessein & Tano Santos, 2006. "Adaptive Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(5), pages 956-985, October.
  2. Lindbeck, Assar & Snower, Dennis J, 2000. "Multitask Learning and the Reorganization of Work: From Tayloristic to Holistic Organization," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 353-76, July.
  3. Bauer, Thomas K. & Bender, Stefan, 2002. "Technological Change, Organizational Change, and Job Turnover," IZA Discussion Papers 570, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. DiNardo, John E & Pischke, Jorn-Steffen, 1997. "The Returns to Computer Use Revisited: Have Pencils Changed the Wage Structure Too?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 291-303, February.
  5. Dustmann, Christian & Ludsteck, Johannes & Schönberg, Uta, 2007. "Revisiting the German Wage Structure," IZA Discussion Papers 2685, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Becker, Sascha & Ekholm, Karolina & Muendler, Marc-Andreas, 2009. "Offshoring and the Onshore Composition of Tasks and Skills," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2009-18, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
  7. Pischke, Jörn-Steffen, 2003. "The Impact of Length of the School Year on Student Performance and Earnings: Evidence from the German Short School Years," CEPR Discussion Papers 4074, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2002. "Skill Biased Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality: Some Problems and Puzzles," NBER Working Papers 8769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  10. Gary S. Murphy Becker & Kevin M., 1992. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 79, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  11. Gould, Eric D., 2005. "Inequality and ability," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 169-189, April.
  12. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter & Violante, Giovanni L, 2002. " General Purpose Technology and Wage Inequality," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 315-45, December.
  13. Eve Caroli & John Van Reenen, 2001. "Skill-Biased Organizational Change? Evidence From A Panel Of British And French Establishments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1449-1492, November.
  14. Gathmann, Christina & Schönberg, Uta, 2007. "How General Is Human Capital? A Task-Based Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 3067, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2002. "Information Technology, Workplace Organization, And The Demand For Skilled Labor: Firm-Level Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 339-376, February.
  16. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning, 2003. "Lousy and Lovely Jobs: the Rising Polarization of Work in Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0604, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  17. Snower, Dennis J., 1999. "Causes of Changing Earnings Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 29, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  19. 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.
  20. Ann Bartel & Casey Ichniowski & Kathryn Shaw, 2007. "How Does Information Technology Affect Productivity? Plant-Level Comparisons of Product Innovation, Process Improvement, and Worker Skills," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1721-1758, November.
  21. 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.
  22. Thomas Lemieux, 2006. "Increasing Residual Wage Inequality: Composition Effects, Noisy Data, or Rising Demand for Skill?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 461-498, June.
  23. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning, 2003. "Lousy and lovely jobs: the rising polarization of work in Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20002, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  24. Dieter Von fintel, 2007. "Dealing With Earnings Bracket Responses In Household Surveys - How Sharp Are Midpoint Imputations?," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 75(2), pages 293-312, 06.
  25. Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 2007. "The impact of length of the school year on student performance and earnings: evidence from the German short school years," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 6129, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  26. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter & Violante†, Giovanni L., 2002. "General Purpose Technology and Wage Inequality," Scholarly Articles 12490369, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  27. Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2000. "Beyond Computation: Information Technology, Organizational Transformation and Business Performance," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 23-48, Fall.
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