IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/tin/wpaper/20190050.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Deskilling among Manufacturing Production Workers

Author

Listed:
  • David Kunst

    (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

Abstract

Although four out of five manufacturing employees work in production occupations in most countries (as opposed to white collar occupations), there is little international evidence on how the transition to more capital intensive production methods has affected the demand for different groups of manufacturing production workers. In this article, I use new occupational wage and employment data to document a global decline in the relative demand for skilled production workers in manufacturing since the 1950s. They tended to work in craftsman occupations, and commanded wages even rivaling those of some white collar workers. However, the demand for manufacturing craftsmen decreased in countries of all income groups and regions over the following decades, and declining relative craftsmen wages and employment have been associated with increasing capital intensities of production. My findings reconcile conflicting characterizations of technological change throughout the 20th century as either `skill biased' or `deskilling', and suggest that the polarization of labor demand in manufacturing precedes ICT. They also point to a decreasing number of manufacturing jobs in which workers with little formal education can acquire significant marketable skills.

Suggested Citation

  • David Kunst, 2019. "Deskilling among Manufacturing Production Workers," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 19-050/VI, Tinbergen Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20190050
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://papers.tinbergen.nl/19050.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. James R. Tybout, 2000. "Manufacturing Firms in Developing Countries: How Well Do They Do, and Why?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 11-44, March.
    2. David Autor & David Dorn & Gordon Hanson & Kaveh Majlesi, 2016. "Importing Political Polarization? The Electoral Consequences of Rising Trade Exposure," NBER Working Papers 22637, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Eric A. Verhoogen, 2008. "Trade, Quality Upgrading, and Wage Inequality in the Mexican Manufacturing Sector," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 489-530.
    4. Leah Platt Boustan & Carola Frydman & Robert A. Margo, 2014. "Human Capital in History: The American Record," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bous12-1, December.
    5. Guy Michaels & Ashwini Natraj & John Van Reenen, 2010. "Has ICT Polarized Skill Demand? Evidence from Eleven Countries over 25 years," NBER Working Papers 16138, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. David H. Autor & David Dorn & Gordon H. Hanson, 2013. "The China Syndrome: Local Labor Market Effects of Import Competition in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(6), pages 2121-2168, October.
    7. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning & Anna Salomons, 2009. "Job Polarization in Europe," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 58-63, May.
    8. repec:aea:apandp:v:109:y:2019:p:1-32 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. David H. Autor & David Dorn, 2013. "The Growth of Low-Skill Service Jobs and the Polarization of the US Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(5), pages 1553-1597, August.
    10. Brent Neiman, 2014. "The Global Decline of the Labor Share," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(1), pages 61-103.
    11. repec:aea:jecper:v:33:y:2019:i:2:p:3-30 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. 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.
    13. James, John A. & Skinner, Jonathan S., 1985. "The Resolution of the Labor-Scarcity Paradox," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(3), pages 513-540, September.
    14. Alexander James Field, 1980. "Industrialization and Skill Intensity: The Case of Massachusetts," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 15(2), pages 149-175.
    15. Dani Rodrik, 2016. "Premature deindustrialization," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 1-33, March.
    16. Eli Bekman & John Bound & Stephen Machin, 1998. "Implications of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1245-1279.
    17. 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.
    18. Mitali Das & Benjamin Hilgenstock, 2018. "The Exposure to Routinization: Labor Market Implications for Developed and Developing Economies," IMF Working Papers 18/135, International Monetary Fund.
    19. David H. Autor, 2015. "Why Are There Still So Many Jobs? The History and Future of Workplace Automation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 29(3), pages 3-30, Summer.
    20. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning & Anna Salomons, 2014. "Explaining Job Polarization: Routine-Biased Technological Change and Offshoring," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(8), pages 2509-2526, August.
    21. Berman, Eli & Machin, Stephen, 2000. "Skill-Based Technology Transfer around the World," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(3), pages 12-22, Autumn.
    22. Orley Ashenfelter, 2012. "Comparing Real Wage Rates: Presidential Address," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 617-642, April.
    23. James Bessen, 2011. "Was Mechanization De-Skilling? The Origins of Task-Biased Technical Change," Working Papers 1101, Research on Innovation.
    24. David Autor & David Dorn & Gordon Hanson, 2019. "When Work Disappears: Manufacturing Decline and the Falling Marriage Market Value of Young Men," American Economic Review: Insights, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 161-178, September.
    25. Orley Ashenfelter, 2012. "Comparing Real Wage Rates," Working Papers 1384, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    26. Goldin, Claudia & Sokoloff, Kenneth, 1982. "Women, Children, and Industrialization in the Early Republic: Evidence from the Manufacturing Censuses," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(4), pages 741-774, December.
    27. Albrecht Glitz & Eric Meyersson, 2017. "Industrial Espionage and Productivity," Working Papers 982, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    28. 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.
    29. repec:aea:aecrev:v:108:y:2018:i:6:p:1488-1542 is not listed on IDEAS
    30. Atack, Jeremy & Bateman, Fred & Margo, Robert A., 2004. "Skill Intensity and Rising Wage Dispersion in Nineteenth-Century American Manufacturing," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 64(1), pages 172-192, March.
    31. Eli Berman & John Bound & Zvi Griliches, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U. S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-397.
    32. repec:pri:indrel:dsp01t435gd01h is not listed on IDEAS
    33. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1998. "The Origins of Technology-Skill Complementarity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(3), pages 693-732.
    34. Francisco David Kunst, 2019. "Premature Deindustrialization through the Lens of Occupations: Which Jobs, Why, and Where?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 19-033/V, Tinbergen Institute, revised 02 Aug 2019.
    35. Hasan, Rana & Mitra, Devashish & Sundaram, Asha, 2013. "The Determinants of Capital Intensity in Manufacturing: The Role of Factor Market Imperfections," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 91-103.
    36. Daron Acemoglu & Pascual Restrepo, 2019. "Automation and New Tasks: How Technology Displaces and Reinstates Labor," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 33(2), pages 3-30, Spring.
    37. David H. Autor, 2019. "Work of the Past, Work of the Future," AEA Papers and Proceedings, American Economic Association, vol. 109, pages 1-32, May.
    38. Richard B. Freeman & Remco Oostendorp, 2000. "Wages Around the World: Pay Across Occupations and Countries," NBER Working Papers 8058, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    39. Guy Michaels & Ashwini Natraj & John Van Reenen, 2014. "Has ICT Polarized Skill Demand? Evidence from Eleven Countries over Twenty-Five Years," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(1), pages 60-77, March.
    40. Dani Rodrik, 2013. "Unconditional Convergence in Manufacturing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(1), pages 165-204.
    41. A. D. Roy, 1951. "Some Thoughts On The Distribution Of Earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 135-146.
    42. Raveh, Ohad & Reshef, Ariell, 2016. "Capital imports composition, complementarities, and the skill premium in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 183-206.
    43. Leah Platt Boustan & Carola Frydman & Robert A. Margo, 2014. "Introduction to "Human Capital in History: The American Record"," NBER Chapters, in: Human Capital in History: The American Record, pages 1-14, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    manufacturing; polarization; deskilling; technological change;

    JEL classification:

    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • N6 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction

    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:tin:wpaper:20190050. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Tinbergen Office +31 (0)10-4088900). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/tinbenl.html .

    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 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.

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.