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Can a Task-Based Approach Explain the Recent Changes in the German Wage Structure?

  • Antonczyk, Dirk
  • Fitzenberger, Bernd
  • Leuschner, Ute

This paper investigates the changes in the German wage structure for fulltime working males from 1999 to 2006. Our analysis builds on the task–based approach introduced by Autor et al. (2003), as implemented by Spitz-Oener (2006) for Germany, and also accounts for job complexity. We perform a Blinder–Oaxaca type decomposition of the changes in the entire wage distribution between 1999 and 2006 into the separate effects of personal characteristics and task assignments. In line with the literature, we find a noticeable increase of wage inequality between 1999 and 2006. The decomposition results show that the changes in personal characteristics explain some of the increase in wage inequality whereas the changes in task assignments strongly work towards reducing wage inequality. The coefficient effect for personal characteristics works towards an increase in wage inequality at the top of the wage distribution. The coefficient effect for the task assignments on the contrary shows an inverted U–shaped pattern. We conclude that altogether the task–based approach can not explain the recent increase of wage inequality in Germany.

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Paper provided by ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research in its series ZEW Discussion Papers with number 08-132.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:7522
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  1. Johannes Gernandt & Friedhelm Pfeiffer, 2006. "Rising Wage Inequality in Germany," Working Papers of the Research Group Heterogenous Labor 06-12, Research Group Heterogeneous Labor, University of Konstanz/ZEW Mannheim.
  2. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The Skill Content Of Recent Technological Change: An Empirical Exploration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1279-1333, November.
  3. Hartog, Joop & Vriend, Nick, 1990. "Young Mediterraneans in the Dutch Labour Market: A Comparative Analysis of Allocation and Earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 379-401, April.
  4. Dustmann, Christian & Ludsteck, Johannes & Schönberg, Uta, 2007. "Revisiting the German Wage Structure," IZA Discussion Papers 2685, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Autor, David & Dorn, David, 2009. "Inequality and Specialization: The Growth of Low-Skill Service Jobs in the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 4290, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Bernd Fitzenberger & Karsten Kohn & Qingwei Wang, 2011. "The erosion of union membership in Germany: determinants, densities, decompositions," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 141-165, January.
  7. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2005. "Trends in U. S. Wage Inequality: Re-Assessing the Revisionists," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2095, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  8. Adam J. Grossberg & Paul Sicilian, 1999. "Minimum Wages, On-the-Job Training, and Wage Growth," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 539-556, January.
  9. Kohn, Karsten, 2006. "Rising Wage Dispersion, After All ! The German Wage Structure at the Turn of the Century," ZEW Discussion Papers 06-31, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  10. 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.
  11. Pekkarinen, Tuomas & Vartiainen, Juhana, 2004. "Gender Differences in Job Assignment and Promotion on a Complexity Ladder of Jobs," IZA Discussion Papers 1184, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  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. Fairlie, Robert, 2014. "The Absence of the African-American Owned Business: An Analysis of the Dynamics of Self-Employment," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt49c4n0fg, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  15. Fitzenberger, Bernd & Kohn, Karsten, 2006. "Skill Wage Premia, Employment, and Cohort Effects: Are Workers in Germany All of the Same Type?," IZA Discussion Papers 2185, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. José Mata & José A. F. Machado, 2005. "Counterfactual decomposition of changes in wage distributions using quantile regression," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(4), pages 445-465.
  17. Alan Manning, 2004. "We can work it out: the impact of technological change on the demand for low skill workers," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19948, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  18. van Ophem, Hans & Hartog, Joop & Vijverberg, Wim P M, 1993. "Job Complexity and Wages," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 34(4), pages 853-72, November.
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