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Job Tasks, Time Allocation, and Wages

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  • Ralph Stinebrickner
  • Todd R. Stinebrickner
  • Paul J. Sullivan

Abstract

While a burgeoning literature has extolled the conceptual virtues of directly measuring the underlying job tasks that define work activities, in practice task-based approaches have been hampered by well-known data limitations. We study wage determination using data collected specifically to address these limitations. Most fundamentally, we construct the first longitudinal dataset containing job-level task information for individual workers. New quantitative task measures take advantage of unique survey questions that ask respondents to detail the amount of time spent performing People, Information, and Objects tasks at different skill levels. These measures have clear interpretations, suggest natural proxies for on-the-job human capital accumulation, and provide methodological guidance for future data collection initiatives. A model of comparative advantage highlights the benefits of the unique data features, and guides the specification and interpretation of empirical models. We provide new findings about the effect of current and past tasks on wages. First, current job tasks are quantitatively important, with high skilled tasks being paid substantially more than low skilled tasks. Second, there is no evidence of learning-by-doing (i.e., effects of past tasks) for low skilled tasks, but strong evidence for high skilled tasks. Current and past high skilled information tasks are particularly valuable, although high skilled interpersonal tasks also play a significant role. Shifting 10 percent of work time from low skilled people tasks to high skilled information tasks increases a worker’s yearly wage by 22 percent after ten years. The accumulation of valuable task-specific experience accounts for 70 percent of this increase, and the direct current-period effect of performing different tasks accounts for the remainder.

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  • Ralph Stinebrickner & Todd R. Stinebrickner & Paul J. Sullivan, 2017. "Job Tasks, Time Allocation, and Wages," NBER Working Papers 24079, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24079
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    1. Ralph Stinebrickner & Todd Stinebrickner & Paul Sullivan, 2019. "Beauty, Job Tasks, and Wages: A New Conclusion about Employer Taste-Based Discrimination," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 101(4), pages 602-615, October.
    2. Rita Pető & Balázs Reizer, 2021. "Gender differences in the skill content of jobs," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(3), pages 825-864, July.
    3. Todd Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner & Paul Sullivan, 2018. "Job Tasks and the Gender Wage Gap among College Graduates," University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers 20183, University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP).
    4. 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.
    5. Arellano-Bover, Jaime & Saltiel, Fernando, 2021. "Differences in On-the-Job Learning across Firms," IZA Discussion Papers 14473, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Žilvinas Martinaitis & Aleksandr Christenko & Jonas AntanaviÄ ius, 2021. "Upskilling, Deskilling or Polarisation? Evidence on Change in Skills in Europe," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 35(3), pages 451-469, June.
    7. Yifan Gong & Lance Lochner & Ralph Stinebrickner & Todd R. Stinebrickner, 2019. "The Consumption Value of College," NBER Working Papers 26335, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Gottlieb, Charles & Grobovšek, Jan & Poschke, Markus & Saltiel, Fernando, 2021. "Working from home in developing countries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 133(C).
    9. Rita Petõ & Reizer Balázs, 2021. "Gender Differences in the Skill Content of Jobs," CERS-IE WORKING PAPERS 2102, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies.
    10. Antonio Martins-Neto & Nanditha Mathew & Pierre Mohnen & Tania Treibich, 2021. "Is There Job Polarization in Developing Economies? A Review and Outlook," CESifo Working Paper Series 9444, CESifo.

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

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