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Wage Inequality and the Changing Organization of Work

  • Görlich, Dennis
  • Snower, Dennis J.

This paper sheds light on how changes in the organization of work lead to wage inequality. We present a theoretical model in which workers with a wider span of competence (higher level of multitasking) earn a wage premium. Since abilities and opportunities to expand the span of competence are distributed unequally among workers across and within education groups, our theory explains (1) rising wage inequality between groups, (2) rising wage inequality within groups, and (3) the polarization of work and the decoupling of the income distribution. Using a rich German data set covering a 20-year period from 1986 to 2006, we provide empirical support for our model.

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Paper provided by Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW) in its series Open Access Publications from Kiel Institute for the World Economy with number 37299.

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Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwkie:37299
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  1. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence Kahn, 2004. "Do Cognitive Test Scores Explain Higher U.S. Wage Inequality?," CESifo Working Paper Series 1139, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Sascha O. Becker & Karolina Ekholm & Marc-Andreas Muendler, 2009. "Offshoring and the Onshore Composition of Tasks and Skills," IAW Discussion Papers 55, Institut für Angewandte Wirtschaftsforschung (IAW).
  3. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2002. "Skill Biased Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality: Some Problems and Puzzles," NBER Working Papers 8769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Christian Dustmann & Johannes Ludsteck & Uta Schönberg, 2009. "Revisiting the German Wage Structure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(2), pages 843-881, May.
  5. Lindbeck, A. & Snower, D.J., 1996. "Reorganization of Firms and Labor Market Inequality," Papers 605, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  6. John E. DiNardo & Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 1996. "The Returns to Computer Use Revisited: Have Pencils Changed the Wage Structure Too?," NBER Working Papers 5606, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 2003. "The Impact of Length of the School Year on Student Performance and Earnings: Evidence from the German Short School Year," NBER Working Papers 9964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Dennis J. Snower, 1998. "Causes of changing earnings inequality," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 69-133.
  9. Haskel, Jonathan & Slaughter, Matthew, 1999. "Trade, Technology and UK Wage Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 2091, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Caroli, Eve & Van Reenen, John, 1999. "Skill biased organizational change? Evidence from a panel of British and French establishments," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9917, CEPREMAP.
  11. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2002. "Information Technology, Workplace Organization, And The Demand For Skilled Labor: Firm-Level Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 339-376, February.
  12. Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2000. "Beyond Computation: Information Technology, Organizational Transformation and Business Performance," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 23-48, Fall.
  13. 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.
  14. 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, 01.
  15. 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, MIT Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1721-1758, November.
  16. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  17. Thomas Lemieux, 2006. "Increasing Residual Wage Inequality: Composition Effects, Noisy Data, or Rising Demand for Skill?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 461-498, June.
  18. Bauer, Thomas & Bender, Stefan, 2002. "Technological Change, Organizational Change, and Job Turnover," CEPR Discussion Papers 3534, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  19. 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.
  20. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter & Violante, Giovanni L, 2002. " General Purpose Technology and Wage Inequality," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 315-45, December.
  21. Dennis J. Snower & Alessio J. G. Brown & Christian Merkl, 2009. "Globalization and the Welfare State: A Review of Hans-Werner Sinn's Can Germany Be Saved?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(1), pages 136-58, March.
  22. Dieter Von fintel, 2007. "Dealing With Earnings Bracket Responses In Household Surveys - How Sharp Are Midpoint Imputations?," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 75(2), pages 293-312, 06.
  23. Gould, Eric D., 2005. "Inequality and ability," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 169-189, April.
  24. Lindbeck, Assar & Snower, Dennis J, 2000. "Multitask Learning and the Reorganization of Work: From Tayloristic to Holistic Organization," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 353-76, July.
  25. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2008. "Trends in U.S. Wage Inequality: Revising the Revisionists," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 300-323, May.
  26. Paul Osterman, 2000. "Work reorganization in an era of restructuring: Trends in diffusion and effects on employee welfare," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 53(2), pages 179-196, January.
  27. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2007. "Long-Run Changes in the U.S. Wage Structure: Narrowing, Widening, Polarizing," NBER Working Papers 13568, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter & Violante†, Giovanni L., 2002. "General Purpose Technology and Wage Inequality," Scholarly Articles 12490369, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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