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Work of the Past, Work of the Future

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  • David Autor

Abstract

Labor markets in U.S. cities today are vastly more educated and skill-intensive than they were five decades ago. Yet, urban non-college workers perform substantially less skilled work than decades earlier. This deskilling reflects the joint effects of automation and international trade, which have eliminated the bulk of non-college production, administrative support, and clerical jobs, yielding a disproportionate polarization of urban labor markets. The unwinding of the urban non-college occupational skill gradient has, I argue, abetted a secular fall in real non-college wages by: (1) shunting non-college workers out of specialized middle-skill occupations into low-wage occupations that require only generic skills; (2) diminishing the set of non-college workers that hold middle-skill jobs in high-wage cities; and (3) attenuating, to a startling degree, the steep urban wage premium for non-college workers that prevailed in earlier decades. Changes in the nature of work—many of which are technological in origin—have been more disruptive and less beneficial for non-college than college workers.

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  • David Autor, 2019. "Work of the Past, Work of the Future," NBER Working Papers 25588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25588
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Work of the Past, Work of the Future
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2019-03-27 14:33:13

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    Cited by:

    1. David Autor & Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2020. "Extending the Race between Education and Technology," AEA Papers and Proceedings, American Economic Association, vol. 110, pages 347-351, May.
    2. Nada Wasi & Sasiwimon Warunsiri Paweenawat & Chinnawat Devahastin Na Ayudhya & Pucktada Treeratpituk & Chommanart Nittayo, 2019. "Labor Income Inequality in Thailand: the Roles of Education, Occupation and Employment History," PIER Discussion Papers 117, Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research, revised Dec 2019.
    3. Kemeny, Thomas & Storper, Michael, 2020. "Superstar cities and left-behind places: disruptive innovation, labor demand, and interregional inequality," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 103312, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. David Kunst, 2019. "Deskilling among Manufacturing Production Workers," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 19-050/VI, Tinbergen Institute.
    5. Benjamin K. Couillard & Christopher L. Foote, 2019. "Recent Employment Growth in Cities, Suburbs, and Rural Communities," Working Papers 19-20, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, revised 01 Dec 2019.
    6. Paulo M.M. Rodrigues & João Nicolau & Pedro Raposo, 2020. "Measuring wage inequality under right censoring," Working Papers w202008, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    7. Edward L. Glaeser, 2020. "Urbanization and its Discontents," NBER Working Papers 26839, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Alekseeva, Liudmila & Azar, José & Gine, Mireia & Samila, Sampsa & Taska, Bledi, 2020. "The Demand for AI Skills in the Labor Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 14320, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Fidrmuc, Jan & Hulényi, Martin & Tunalı, Çiğdem Börke, 2019. "Can money buy EU love?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C).
    10. Edward L. Glaeser, 2020. "Urbanization and Its Discontents," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 46(2), pages 191-218, April.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)

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