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The Anatomy of Job Polarisation in the UK

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  • Salvatori, Andrea

    () (OECD)

Abstract

This paper presents new evidence on the evolution of job polarisation over time and across skill groups in the UK between 1979 and 2012. The UK has experienced job polarisation in each of the last three decades, with growth in top jobs always exceeding that in bottom ones. Overall, top occupations have gained over 80% of the employment shares lost by middling occupations. The decline of middling occupations is entirely accounted for by non-graduates who have seen their relative numbers decrease and the distribution of their employment shift towards the bottom of the occupational skill distribution. The increase at the top is entirely accounted for by compositional changes, as a result of the increase in the number of graduates since the 1990s. Employment has not polarised for graduates, but has become less concentrated in top occupations, especially in the 2000s. The paper also documents that job polarisation has not been matched by wage polarisation across the occupational distribution in any decade and discusses how these new findings relate to the existing evidence for the US and to the prevailing technology-based explanation for job polarisation. Overall, the importance of occupational changes between skill groups and the performance of occupational wages over time cast doubts on the role of technology as the main driver of polarisation in the UK. In particular, the evidence suggests that supply-side changes are likely to be important factors in explaining why high-skill occupations continued to grow in the 2000s even as they stalled in the US.

Suggested Citation

  • Salvatori, Andrea, 2015. "The Anatomy of Job Polarisation in the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 9193, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9193
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    Cited by:

    1. Francis Green & Alan Felstead & Duncan Gallie & Golo Henseke, 2016. "Skills and work organisation in Britain: a quarter century of change
      [Fertigkeiten, Fertigkeitsanforderungen und Arbeitsorganisation in Grossbritannien: Trends über das letzten Vierteljahrhundert]
      ," Journal for Labour Market Research, Springer;Institute for Employment Research/ Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), vol. 49(2), pages 121-132, October.
    2. Benoit Dostie, 2018. "Polarisation du marché du travail, structure industrielle et croissance économique," CIRANO Project Reports 2018rp-02, CIRANO.
    3. Wojciech Hardy & Roma Keister & Piotr Lewandowski, 2016. "Do entrants take it all? The evolution of task content of jobs in Poland," Ekonomia journal, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw, vol. 47.
    4. Andrea Salvatori & Seetha Menon & Wouter Zwysen, 2018. "The effect of computer use on job quality: Evidence from Europe," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 200, OECD Publishing.
    5. Francis Green & Golo Henseke, 2016. "The changing graduate labour market: analysis using a new indicator of graduate jobs," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-25, December.
    6. Szymon Gorka & Wojciech Hardy & Roma Keister & Piotr Lewandowski, 2017. "Age, tasks and skills in European labour markets. Background paper for the world bank report “Growing United: Upgrading Europe’s Convergence Machine”," IBS Research Reports 04/2017, Instytut Badan Strukturalnych.
    7. Roma Keister & Piotr Lewandowski, 2016. "A routine transition? Causes and consequences of the changing content of jobs in Central and Eastern Europe," IBS Policy Papers 05/2016, Instytut Badan Strukturalnych.
    8. Piotr Lewandowski & Albert Park & Wojciech Hardy & Du Yang, 2019. "Technology, Skills, and Globalization: Explaining International Differences in Routine and Nonroutine Work Using Survey Data," IBS Working Papers 04/2019, Instytut Badan Strukturalnych.
    9. Cortes, Guido Matias & Salvatori, Andrea, 2019. "Delving into the demand side: Changes in workplace specialization and job polarization," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 164-176.
    10. Andrea Salvatori, 2018. "The anatomy of job polarisation in the UK," Journal for Labour Market Research, Springer;Institute for Employment Research/ Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), vol. 52(1), pages 1-15, December.
    11. Wojciech Hardy & Roma Keister & Piotr Lewandowski, 2016. "Technology or Upskilling? Trends in the Task Composition of Jobs in Central and Eastern Europe," HKUST IEMS Working Paper Series 2016-40, HKUST Institute for Emerging Market Studies, revised Dec 2016.
    12. Lewandowski, Piotr & Keister, Roma & Hardy, Wojciech & Górka, Szymon, 2017. "Routine and Ageing? The Intergenerational Divide in the Deroutinisation of Jobs in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 10732, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. repec:spr:series:v:9:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s13209-018-0177-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. repec:wfo:monber:y:2018:i:3:p:177-190 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Szymon Gorka & Wojciech Hardy & Roma Keister & Piotr Lewandowski, 2017. "Tasks and skills in European labour markets. Background paper for the World Bank report “Growing United: Upgrading Europe’s Convergence Machine”," IBS Research Reports 03/2017, Instytut Badan Strukturalnych.
    16. Lee, Neil & Clarke, Stephen, 2019. "Do low-skilled workers gain from high-tech employment growth? High-technology multipliers, employment and wages in Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 100926, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    17. 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.
    18. repec:bla:etrans:v:26:y:2018:i:2:p:201-231 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    job polarisation; wage inequality; occupational mobility; routine employment; skill biased technological change;

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • 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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