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The Rise of the Service Economy

  • Francisco J. Buera
  • Joseph P. Kaboski

This paper analyzes the role of specialized high-skilled labor in the growth of the service sector as a share of the total economy. Empirically, we emphasize that the growth has been driven by the consumption of services. Rather than being driven by low-skill jobs, the importance of skill-intensive services has risen, and this has coincided with a period of rising relative wages and quantities of high-skilled labor. We develop a theory where demand shifts toward ever more skill-intensive output as income rises, and because skills are highly specialized this lowers the importance of home production relative to market services. The theory is also consistent with a rising level of skill and skill premium, a rising relative price of services that is linked to this skill premium, and rich product cycles between home and market, all of which are observed in the data.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14822.

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Date of creation: Mar 2009
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Publication status: published as Francisco J. Buera & Joseph P. Kaboski, 2012. "The Rise of the Service Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2540-69, October.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14822
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