IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/15116.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Putting Tasks to the Test: Human Capital, Job Tasks and Wages

Author

Listed:
  • David H. Autor
  • Michael J. Handel

Abstract

Employing original, representative survey data, we document that cognitive, interpersonal and physical job task demands can be measured with high validity using standard interview techniques. Job tasks vary substantially within and between occupations, are significantly related to workers' characteristics, and are robustly predictive of wage differentials both between occupations and among workers in the same occupation. We offer a conceptual framework that makes explicit the causal links between human capital endowments, occupational assignment, job tasks, and wages. This framework motivates a Roy (1951) model of the allocation of workers to occupations. Tests of the model's implication that 'returns to tasks' must negatively covary among occupations are strongly supported.

Suggested Citation

  • David H. Autor & Michael J. Handel, 2009. "Putting Tasks to the Test: Human Capital, Job Tasks and Wages," NBER Working Papers 15116, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15116
    Note: LS
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15116.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Willis, Robert J & Rosen, Sherwin, 1979. "Education and Self-Selection," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 7-36, October.
    2. Morris M. Kleiner & Alan B. Krueger, 2010. "The Prevalence and Effects of Occupational Licensing," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 48(4), pages 676-687, December.
    3. Morris M. Kleiner & Alan B. Krueger, 2008. "The Prevalence and Effects of Occupational Licensing," Working Papers 1069, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    4. George J. Borjas, 2021. "The Economic Benefits from Immigration," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Foundational Essays in Immigration Economics, chapter 13, pages 411-430, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    5. Giovanni Peri & Chad Sparber, 2016. "Task Specialization, Immigration, and Wages," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: The Economics of International Migration, chapter 3, pages 81-115 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    6. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Heckman, James J & Honore, Bo E, 1990. "The Empirical Content of the Roy Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(5), pages 1121-1149, September.
    8. Morris M. Kleiner & Alan B. Krueger, 2010. "The Prevalence and Effects of Occupational Licensing," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 48(4), pages 676-687, December.
    9. Pol Antràs & Luis Garicano & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2006. "Offshoring in a Knowledge Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 31-77.
    10. Daron Acemoglu, 1999. "Changes in Unemployment and Wage Inequality: An Alternative Theory and Some Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1259-1278, December.
    11. Christina Gathmann & Uta Schönberg, 2010. "How General Is Human Capital? A Task-Based Approach," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(1), pages 1-49, January.
    12. J. Bradford Jensen & Lori G. Kletzer, 2010. "Measuring Tradable Services and the Task Content of Offshorable Services Jobs," NBER Chapters, in: Labor in the New Economy, pages 309-335, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. David H. Autor & Michael J. Handel, 2013. "Putting Tasks to the Test: Human Capital, Job Tasks, and Wages," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(S1), pages 59-96.
    14. Edward P. Lazear, 2009. "Firm-Specific Human Capital: A Skill-Weights Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(5), pages 914-940, October.
    15. J. Bradford Jensen & Lori G. Kletzer, 2005. "Tradable Services: Understanding the Scope and Impact of Services Outsourcing," Working Paper Series WP05-9, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    16. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1, May.
    17. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The skill content of recent technological change: an empirical exploration," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
    18. Gene M. Grossman & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2008. "Trading Tasks: A Simple Theory of Offshoring," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1978-1997, December.
    19. Welch, F, 1970. "Education in Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(1), pages 35-59, Jan.-Feb..
    20. Neal, Derek, 1999. "The Complexity of Job Mobility among Young Men," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 237-261, April.
    21. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
    22. Alan Manning, 2004. "We Can Work It Out: The Impact of Technological Change on the Demand for Low‐Skill Workers," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 51(5), pages 581-608, November.
    23. 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.
    24. Patricia Cortes, 2008. "The Effect of Low-Skilled Immigration on U.S. Prices: Evidence from CPI Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(3), pages 381-422, June.
    25. 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.
    26. Robert Gibbons & Lawrence F. Katz & Thomas Lemieux & Daniel Parent, 2005. "Comparative Advantage, Learning, and Sectoral Wage Determination," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(4), pages 681-724, October.
    27. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2006. "The Polarization of the U.S. Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 189-194, May.
    28. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1721-1758.
    29. repec:pri:cepsud:174krueger is not listed on IDEAS
    30. Alan Manning, 2004. "We Can Work It Out: the Impact of Technological Change on the Demand for Low Skill Workers," CEP Discussion Papers dp0640, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    31. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling and Earnings," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 41-63, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    32. A. D. Roy, 1951. "Some Thoughts On The Distribution Of Earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 135-146.
    33. Acemoglu, Daron & Autor, David, 2011. "Skills, Tasks and Technologies: Implications for Employment and Earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 12, pages 1043-1171, Elsevier.
    34. Alan S. Blinder, 2009. "How Many US Jobs Might be Offshorable?," World Economics, World Economics, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 10(2), pages 41-78, April.
    35. 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.
    36. Firpo, Sergio & Fortin, Nicole M. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2011. "Occupational Tasks and Changes in the Wage Structure," IZA Discussion Papers 5542, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    37. Weiss, Matthias, 2008. "Skill-biased technological change: Is there hope for the unskilled?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 100(3), pages 439-441, September.
    38. James Heckman & Jose Scheinkman, 1987. "The Importance of Bundling in a Gorman-Lancaster Model of Earnings," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(2), pages 243-255.
    39. Dirk Antonczyk & Thomas DeLeire & Bernd Fitzenberger, 2018. "Polarization and Rising Wage Inequality: Comparing the U.S. and Germany," Econometrics, MDPI, vol. 6(2), pages 1-33, April.
    40. Giovanni Peri & Chad Sparber, 2016. "Task Specialization, Immigration, and Wages," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: The Economics of International Migration, chapter 3, pages 81-115, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    41. Marianne Bertrand & Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2009. "Dynamics of the Gender Gap for Young Professionals in the Corporate and Financial Sectors," NBER Working Papers 14681, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    42. repec:hrv:faseco:4784031 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Autor, David H., 2013. "The "task approach" to labor markets : an overview," Journal for Labour Market Research, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], vol. 46(3), pages 185-199.
    2. Guido Matias Cortes, 2016. "Where Have the Middle-Wage Workers Gone? A Study of Polarization Using Panel Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(1), pages 63-105.
    3. Aepli, Manuel, 2019. "Technological change and occupation mobility: A task-based approach to horizontal mismatch," GLO Discussion Paper Series 361, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    4. Ralph Stinebrickner & Todd Stinebrickner & Paul Sullivan, 2019. "Job Tasks, Time Allocation, and Wages," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(2), pages 399-433.
    5. Acemoglu, Daron & Autor, David, 2011. "Skills, Tasks and Technologies: Implications for Employment and Earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 12, pages 1043-1171, Elsevier.
    6. Falck, Oliver & Heimisch-Roecker, Alexandra & Wiederhold, Simon, 2021. "Returns to ICT skills," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(7).
    7. Carl Sanders & Christopher Taber, 2012. "Life-Cycle Wage Growth and Heterogeneous Human Capital," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 399-425, July.
    8. David J. Deming, 2017. "The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(4), pages 1593-1640.
    9. Baumgarten, Daniel & Geishecker, Ingo & Görg, Holger, 2013. "Offshoring, tasks, and the skill-wage pattern," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 132-152.
    10. Koomen, Miriam & Backes-Gellner, Uschi, 2022. "Occupational tasks and wage inequality in West Germany: A decomposition analysis," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    11. Ian Nicole A. Generalao, 2019. "Mapping tasks to occupations using Philippine data," UP School of Economics Discussion Papers 201904, University of the Philippines School of Economics.
    12. Vallizadeh, Ehsan & Muysken, Joan & Ziesemer, Thomas, 2016. "Offshoring Medium-Skill Tasks, Low-Skill Unemployment and the Skill-Wage Structure," MPRA Paper 75581, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Ljubica Nedelkoska & Frank Neffke, 2019. "Skill Mismatch and Skill Transferability: Review of Concepts and Measurements," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1921, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Jun 2019.
    14. Giuseppe De Arcangelis & Rama Dasi Mariani, 2019. "Multi-Country Tasks Measures: Beyond US-based Data and a Focus on Migration," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 39(3), pages 2155-2161.
    15. Wielandt, Hanna & Senftleben, Charlotte, 2012. "The Polarization of Employment in German Local Labor Markets," VfS Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century 62063, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    16. Dirk Antonczyk & Thomas DeLeire & Bernd Fitzenberger, 2018. "Polarization and Rising Wage Inequality: Comparing the U.S. and Germany," Econometrics, MDPI, vol. 6(2), pages 1-33, April.
    17. İ. Akçomak & Lex Borghans & Bas Weel, 2011. "Measuring and Interpreting Trends in the Division of Labour in the Netherlands," De Economist, Springer, vol. 159(4), pages 435-482, December.
    18. Böhm, Michael Johannes & Gaudecker, Hans-Martin von & Schran, Felix, 2019. "Occupation Growth, Skill Prices, and Wage Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 12647, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    19. Harrigan, James & Reshef, Ariell & Toubal, Farid, 2021. "The March of the Techies: Job Polarization Within and Between Firms," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(7).
    20. Eva Moreno‐Galbis & Jeremy Tanguy & Ahmed Tritah & Catherine Laffineur, 2019. "Immigrants’ Wage Performance in a Routine Biased Technological Change Era: France 1994–2012," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(4), pages 623-673, October.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • 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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15116. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: the person in charge (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.